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Pa. school district nurses now trained to use naloxone

The naloxone will be provided to the school district for free; the school nurses said they want to help save lives


By Amy Marchiano
Republican & Herald

POTTSVILLE, Pa. — The Pottsville Area School District is now able to use Narcan, if needed, in all of its schools.

Nurses were trained Monday on the proper administration of the fast-acting medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose at the Robert W. Wachter Auditorium in the high school. Angela Holobetz, high school nurse; Danita Sippel, middle school nurse; Donna Romano, elementary nurse; and nurse Jennifer Kepner, who works in all three buildings, received training.

Pat Moran, education and outreach coordinator with Schuylkill EMS, volunteered to provide the training. Moran is also a school board member.

“It’s a crisis that we are all in” as a community, he said.

“My hope is we never have to use it,” Superintendent Jeffrey S. Zwiebel said.

Clinical Outcomes Group Inc., Pottsville, will provide the Narcan to the district for free. The district could have its supply later this month.

“The best part about the medication is there are zero side effects,” he said.

The nurses said they want to help save lives.

The district adopted the policy in June 2016 but realized it didn’t have any trainings set up for the nurses. Zwiebel said they wanted to get that done as soon as they could for the new school year.

The policy states “as a means of enhancing the health and safety of its students, staff and visitors, the district may obtain, maintain and administer doses of an opioid antagonist and other facilities, specifically naloxone, for emergency use to assist student, staff member or other individual believed or suspected to be experiencing an opioid overdose.” Narcan is another name for the drug naloxone.

An opioid is identified as illegal drugs such as heroin and prescription medications used to treat pain such as morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone and buprenorphine.

School district nurses are responsible for administering the medication if needed.

“Our first line of defense is to have the nurses do it,” Zwiebel said.

The nurses are in the building the entire school day, he said.

Zwiebel said he didn’t recall if a letter had been issued previously informing parents/guardians or students and staff about the policy, but said a letter will be sent out soon. The policy spells out requirements and procedure regarding the policy.

Moran said it is “one more way that we are trying to maintain a safe and controlled environment for our students and staff.”

If a drug overdose is suspected, district employees shall do the following: call for medical help immediately; check for signs of an opioid overdose; perform initial rescue breathing or CPR; administer naloxone; continue rescue breathing or CPR; give a second dose of naloxone if needed; have the person lay on their left side and have their airway protected; stay with the person until emergency help arrives; cooperate with EMS personnel when they arrive; and notify the building administrator or designee of the incident.

“Any student who experiences a drug overdose shall be referred to the district’s Student Assistance Program,” the policy states.

Zwiebel said students have been referred to the program but he declined to say why.

Parents or guardians will be notified of any student directly involved in an incident involving the use of controlled substances as soon as practicable, the policy states. Other guidelines also apply.

Copyright 2017 Republican & Herald

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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