County Opioid Task Force pushing for naloxone in schools
NEW HARTFORD — Having more naloxone and Narcan access in local schools is a priority for the Oneida County Opioid Task Force, according to County Executive Anthony J. Picente and his fellow task force chairs.
The Task Force held an informational session with local school leaders at Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES on March 9. Picente, Oneida County Sheriff Robert M. Maciol and District Attorney Scott D. McNamara presented information on the risk of overdose deaths for young people due to the increase in fentanyl in the local drug market.
“The lives of our young people are at risk,” Picente said in a release.
“Deadly fentanyl has invaded nearly every drug supply in Oneida County and is readily available. It is more important now than ever to work with our schools to increase awareness, ensure we are ready to respond to overdoses in any setting and take preventive actions to protect our young people. That starts with making life-saving naloxone available in every school building in the county.”
Naloxone — more commonly known by the brand name Narcan — is a drug used to stop opioid overdoses, allowing time for proper medical care to be delivered to the victim. Naloxone is currently only available in the New Hartford and Waterville school districts, officials said. All special patrol and resource officers employed by the Sheriff’s Office also carry naloxone while on duty at multiple other school districts.
In Rome, Superintendent Peter Blake said he came away from the meeting with a renewed interest in bringing naloxone to the district.
“I was at the meeting a few weeks ago, and we do plan to explore providing training to our staff and providing access to Narcan/naloxone within our buildings,” Blake stated.
In Utica, acting Superintendent Brian Nolan said he also attended the Task Force meeting, and any such decisions would need to come from the Board of Education.
“Naloxone is currently not available in Utica schools,” Nolan stated. “The Board of Education would need to create policy, and the meeting provided details on those options available to school districts.
According to the Overdose Detection and Mapping Application Program, there have been 66 reported overdoses in Oneida County involving individuals 18 years of age and younger since 2019. The county also saw its first adolescent overdose death in 2022 due to fentanyl and methamphetamine.
The Opioid Task Force said they will continue discussions with all of the school districts in Oneida County, their boards of education and the BOCES that represent them in order to ensure first aid tools are in place to respond to any potential overdose in a school setting, through naloxone training and emergency cabinets or kits.
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