With the opioid antidote Narcan now more widely available, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school trustee Susan Carr is hopeful school district staff members will have it with them if there is an overdose in a school.
On Dec. 20 the province announced the overdose-reversing naloxone kits would be more readily available across B.C., free of charge.
They will be in pharmacies, and pharmacists will be able to train those interested in how to use Narcan kits.
“I’m glad they’re making it so widely available that you can just walk into a pharmacy and get it,” she said.
Carr hopes school principals, teachers or other staff go and get the kits and training.
“If they feel comfortable getting that training on their own, they can just go to a pharmacy.”
Carr has been critical of senior government for not having a strategy to deal with the prospect of a student overdose.
“The province is very reluctant to mandate an overdose first aid strategy in B.C. schools,” she said.
She wants to see a Narcan kit in every middle school and high school in the province. In October 2016 the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School Board passed a motion by Carr, the vice-chair, to ask the ministers of health, education and children and families to create provincial standards around training and administering the opioid antidote Naloxone in schools.
Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall responded “we are not designating schools a high-risk environment.”
“I would like to reassure educators that youth aged 10-18 comprise a very small subset of fatal overdoses,” said Kendall, and noted there has never been an overdose death in a B.C. school.
Carr said there are fatal overdoses in that age group every year – 12 in 2016 and 21 through October 2017.
“Are we just lucky nobody has experienced an overdose in a school?”
The number of overdose deaths has almost doubled in the past year. From January to October of 2016 there were 683 deaths in B.C. compared 1,208 over the same period of 2017.
Carr asked whether it will take a tragedy in a school to change government policy. She said distributing the free kits to pharmacies has been a long time coming.
“It’s a good thing, but this health crisis was declared in 2016, and it’s now 2018, and a lot of people have died.”