Wolf: High schools can apply for Narcan

Greg Gross
  • Narcan will be available to all public high school in the state

High schools across the state could soon receive the life-saving medication Narcan, used to counteract heroin overdoses.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Tuesday that schools can start applying to get a carton containing two doses of the heroin antidote naloxone through Pennsylvania-based Adapt Pharma at no cost to districts.

When implemented, Pennsylvania will be the first state to have a statewide program.

“By providing schools access to this life-saving medicine, we are proactively increasing safety measures at schools across the commonwealth,” Pedro Rivera, the secretary of education, said in a statement.

The application process is being handled by the state departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs, HealthState and Education, according to a news release from the Department of Health.

In order to apply, a district's physician would have to sign an order allowing the school nurse to administer Narcan, its board of directors would have to adopt a policy, and the school nurse must complete state-approved training. If approved, schools would start receiving Narcan in early May.

Naloxone stops the effect of opioids, including heroin, on the brain, allowing a person who is overdosing to breathe.

In schools now: Some York County high schools already have Narcan at their disposal. The York City School District's Police Department in August became the first school security team in the county approved to carry Narcan and, through District Attorney Tom Kearney's office, received the kits for free.

Spring Grove Area School District has a school resource officer through the Northern Regional Police Department who has been equipped with the drug.

But Karyn Brown, Spring Grove's director of pupil services, said the district's health council, which is composed of staff, parents and school board members, will discuss the state-issued kits when it meets later this month.

"We will be applying for that," Brown said.

Wolf's administration first announced the initiative in February.

Deaths: There has been a drastic uptick in heroin-related deaths in York County and nationally in recent years. And York County could be on pace to see more deaths this year.

In 2014, 62 deaths were reported in York County, but the number of deaths increased to 65 last year. Through the end of March, there were three confirmed and 10 suspected heroin-related deaths for a total of 13. There were 11 heroin-related deaths through the first three months of 2015.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.