Los Angeles (CABC) – The Los Angeles Unified School District announced Thursday that it will make the anti-overdose drug Narcan available at all of its campuses by mid-October.
The announcement comes in response to students’ recent overdoses of fentanyl, including the death of a 15-year-old girl in the bathroom of Bernstein High School in Hollywood.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said doses of Narcan, or naloxone, will also be made available to all LAUSD school police officers.
The doses will be provided by the county’s Department of Public Health at no cost, according to a press release from LAUSD.
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Narcan, if taken in time, can counteract the effects of an overdose and allow the patient to resume breathing. Treatment is only temporary, lasting between 30 and 90 minutes, but is designed to allow first responders to arrive and start treatment permanently.
“Research shows that availability of naloxone combined with overdose education is effective in reducing overdose and death — and will save lives,” Carvalho said in a statement. “We will do everything we can to ensure that no other student in our community falls victim to the growing opioid epidemic. Keeping students safe and healthy remains our top priority.”
The superintendent also announced Thursday plans for a district-wide education campaign, including a “peer-to-peer” effort to teach students the consequences of fentanyl use.
“There is nothing better than a fellow student explaining the consequences associated with fentanyl to other students,” he said.
He also said that next week the district will launch a mass online and in-person education campaign for parents to allow them to recognize signs of drug use and learn about the effects of fentanyl. He said the campaign will be conducted in multiple languages ”to reach every district in our region”.
The district also plans to launch a mandatory safety mission that will work with school police and other local law enforcement to provide a “higher level of oversight” in parks and other areas where students are believed to be getting drugs.
“The opioid epidemic is a societal crisis, and today LA is taking concrete action to protect our students — through easy availability of naloxone and through proactive education and support,” Board Chair Kelly Gones said in a statement. “The board and supervisor are committed to doing everything we can to ensure the safety of students on our campuses and in our communities.”
Experts say the strong opioid fentanyl appears in marijuana, illegal pills and other items accessible to school-aged children.
In addition to the nasal spray, naloxone may also be given as an injection.
The City News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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