PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Children 13 years old and younger are dying of fentanyl poisoning at a rate faster than other age groups, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shared by the nonprofit Families against Fentanyl. 

It’s why there’s a push to get naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, into schools. It’s a drug that can help restore breathing after an overdose. 

Oregon lawmakers are currently considering a bill that could help protect school staff who jump in to help. 

Several teenagers in the Portland metro area have died in the past year after illegally buying or being given fake oxycontin or other pain medication pills that are laced with fentanyl. The drug is 50 times stronger than heroin and one pill can kill a teenager in minutes. 

“It’s been two and a half years and it’s just as raw as that day I found him, but I’m trying to educate our state, our nation to look, you know, this is very real. These are just kids,” said Michele Stroh, who lost her son to fentanyl. 

Stroh is on the Oregon City School Board and led a vote to get naloxone stocked in all their schools. The drug is a nasal spray that reverses an opioid overdose and can help someone start breathing again. 

Portland, Beaverton, West Linn, Wilsonville and Hillsboro are among school districts that have approved a supply. 

Now, Oregon lawmakers are working to increase the chances naloxone will be used in a drug emergency. 

Schools usually need parental permission to give a student medication, but House Bill 2883 would allow school employees to give a student naloxone without it. The measure also would protect employees from civil and criminal liability. 

“It’s no different than having the AED machines on for a potential heart attack,” Stroh said. “The great thing about administering the Narcan is you can’t hurt them if it wasn’t necessary. And so, I’d rather look at a parent saying, ‘We did all we could do in an effort to stop whatever was potentially happening,’ than to say, ‘I wish we would have had the opportunity to do this.” 

Her hope is that if this becomes law, more districts will agree to carry the medication in all school buildings – not just high schools.