WALLINGFORD — Beginning next month, nurses at both high schools in Wallingford will carry naloxone, a medication that counters the effects of opioid overdoses.
Naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan, a brand name, is an opioid antagonist that reverses the effects of an overdose by blocking opioids from attaching to brain receptors. The drug is administered in the event of a suspected opioid overdose.
Nurses at Lyman Hall and Sheehan high schools will begin carrying the naloxone on Dec. 1, said Kathleen Neelon, school district nurse coordinator. In the case of a suspected overdose, nurses will administer the drug nasally. The drug can also be administered intravenously or intramuscularly.
Neelon said that although no overdoses have occurred at the schools in recent years, the decision to equip nurses was a proactive measure in response to rising opioid use and overdoses in the area.
“We are implementing this to be proactive and responsive,” said School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo.
Neelon said nurses were trained to administer the drug and will follow a protocol in the event of a suspected overdose. Nurses will first call 911 before assessing whether an overdose has occurred.
Naloxone poses no side effects if administered in the absence of an overdose, she said, but nurses will still use discretion when administering it.
Neelon said the school district was able to purchase naloxone through a national grant from the Clinton Foundation.
Earlier this year, the foundation collaborated with Adapt Pharma, a pharmaceutical company, to offer a free carton of naloxone to public high schools across the country.
A few other school districts in Connecticut have also begun carrying naloxone, Neelon said.
In October, local police officers began carrying naloxone to help the fire department, Wallingford’s designated medical first responders, in responding to an increased number of medical calls.
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