Schools may be allowed to stock naloxone

Posted at 7:35 PM, Oct 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-19 08:15:23-04

It's a drug used by paramedics and first responders to save lives after a suspected heroin or painkiller overdose, now Michigan lawmakers are considering legislation that would let schools stock naloxone, also known as Narcan.

Superintendent Jeff Beal knows it isn't always easy to tell what students are bringing into the classroom.

"I have five children at home and it terrifies me because a pill goes down and it's swallowed with a glass of water quicker than you know what it is," said Beal, who works for Jackson Public Schools.

In his 20 years as an educator Beal has seen a lot of change. When it comes to prescription painkillers and heroin abuse, he knows it's harder than ever to control what kids are getting their hands on.

"To think that it's not going to impact children would be naive," Beal said. "The scariest thing for us is students that get into their parent's or medicine bottles and think because it has a prescription label on it that it's safe."

If a student overdoses at school, Beals says he would do anything he could to save them.

"We're not nurses, we're educators by trade," Beal addd.

A proposed set of bills would let teachers and staff go through training to use naloxone, the drug that reverses the effects of an overdose.

The program would be optional, but Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint), who is behind the bills, says they come with strict guidelines. That includes:

- At least two employees must be trained on how to use the drug
- Both the Michigan Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services will oversee training, which must be approved by a licensed nurse practitioner
- Schools must call 911 if they suspect a student is having an overdose
- School staff are required to notify parents of students who were given naloxone for an overdose and give them information about substance abuse and recovery programs

There's also built-in protections. As long as an employee is trained and follows all the rules they can't face criminal or civil liabilities.

"Kids are abusing and get addicted much earlier," Sen. Ananich said. "We're starting to see the biggest increase in addiction in Middle School kids. I think parents and all of us have to do more to make sure it doesn't happen."

Since the bills are still in the early stages, only being voted out of a Senate committee on Tuesday, Beal is keeping an open mind.

"It doesn't take much to be trained and there don't seem to be many side effects," he said. "I see this coming. I see this as being something for all of us, we'll just have to wait and see how it all rolls out."