(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) By the end of this week, all elementary schools in the St Joseph School District will have nurses equipped to save the lives of local children exposed to opioids. But what's behind the decision to place Narcan, a prescription narcotic used to treat opioid overdoses in the hands of district employees?
As the FDA recommends naloxone or Narcan be placed in schools, districts like St. Joseph are making it accessible to elementary school nurses and soon staff and teachers.
"That decision was made because we want to be proactive," said Tammy Smith-Hinchey, Nursing Services Coordinator for SJSD. "As part of the districts emergency planning, by the end of this week every school in the district will not only be armed with an emergency defibrillator, they will also have Narcan."
Parents may question if local elementary kids in danger of an opioid overdose.
Officials with the St. Joseph Heath Department said, "Our community, as well as the opioid task force, has struggled with data collection regarding overdoses which go unreported."
The district does have access to Missouri's 2022 survey of students in Buchanan County. According to the survey, 17.9% of 6th-12th graders say it's "very" or "sort of easy" to get prescription drugs not prescribed to them.
The district isn't waiting for a survey to tell them what kindergarteners have to say about the availability.
"I think the probability is probably very low, however, we do have students who sometimes have access to their parents medication, and if that were to happen we would want to act as soon as possible to save that children's life," Smith-Hinchey said.
Smith-Hinchey plans to train and educate all SJSD staff and teachers by the end of the 2023 school year.