PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon City School District will soon have Naloxone available in its schools.
The school board voted Monday night to adopt the change, which allows schools to keep Naloxone on hand and lets staff administer it to students in the case of an overdose on school grounds.
The potentially life-saving drug reverses opioid overdoses.
While the vote was already scheduled, it comes a week after two Portland teens died of fentanyl overdoses.
Gail Strobehn-Simmons lost her son, Christopher, when he overdosed in 2012. She founded Need4Narcan, an organization that works to help schools get Narcan free of charge and helps train staff how to use it.
“I lost my only child. He started doing drugs in high school,” Strobehn-Simmons said during a November 2021 Oregon City school board meeting.
Oregon City board member Michele Stroh, whose son Keaton died from an overdose in 2020, said “it is my hope and prayer we never have to use this, but rest assured I feel so much better knowing we have all the tools in our toolbox should that ever come needed.”
Kelly Barnett, a school nurse in North Bend, where they’ve had Narcan available on campuses for about 7 years, explained that Narcan is “a nasal instiller that is designed to be user friendly. It works very quickly and it’s the difference of life and death.”
Barnett is a member of the Oregon School Nurses Association. Its umbrella organization – the National Association of School Nurses – has been pushing to have Narcan in all schools across the country since 2015.
“I don’t ever wanna argue for having an emergency med saying, ‘look, we lost this kid,’ I want the opposite. I don’t ever want to lose a kid. Period,” Barnett said.
Narcan is available in West Linn, Wilsonville and Lake Oswego schools.
Lake Oswego School District told KOIN 6 News “our district nurses have Narcan and have been trained when and how to use it. We have an agent from Homeland Security scheduling time with our high school health classes to present information about counterfeit oxy/fentanyl right now. That is on top of our regular health curriculum which includes learning about health and safety concerns of substance abuse.
The district added “also, LOSD is hosting a Safety Symposium at Lakeridge High School on April 7, 6-8 p.m. for our community to attend sessions on a number of topics, including one about what parents/guardians need to know about substance abuse.”
Meanwhile, Beaverton has had Narcan since May 2021 and also has a fentanyl awareness unit that every middle and high school student is required to take. The curriculum they developed is online, free and has been used by schools in other parts of the U.S.
Additionally, Salem-Keizer School District told KOIN 6 News “although not in place quite yet, we are currently working on implementing Naloxone to be available in our schools to be administered by school medical teams. We are currently finalizing policy and training for this. In addition, we are currently working on developing messaging for awareness about counterfeit opioids and the dangers of fentanyl for students and families.”
KOIN 6 News also reached out to Brenda Martinek, Chief of Student Support Services with Portland Public Schools , who said that the district doesn’t currently stock Narcan or Naloxone at our schools, but is “currently working to make it available on all of our high school campuses, similar to the availability of EpiPens. We know that having Naloxone on hand could save lives.”
Tigard School District told KOIN 6 News they “do not have Narcan available via school staff or our health staff. We do have School Resource Officers who do have and are trained to administer Narcan that work at our High and Middle Schools and serve our elementary schools. We do have prevention woven into our curriculum and both high schools have dedicated groups who actively engage in drug and alcohol prevention activities at both high schools.”
KOIN 6 News has not heard back from Gresham-Barlow School District.