S.C. schools can now have supply of overdose-reversal drugs under new law
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The new school year means new students, new teachers, and now, for South Carolina schools, a new tool in their first-aid kits that could save lives.
The addition could prevent drug overdose deaths, which the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control reports are rising “at an alarming rate.”
“In most school districts, it’s not an ‘if’ we have an overdose, but a ‘when,’” Dawn MacAdams, president-elect of the South Carolina Association of School Nurses said.
But before this school year, nurses like MacAdams were generally prohibited from administering lifesaving, opioid-overdose reversal medications like Narcan at school.
Instead, they would need to track down a school resource office and hope they had the medication on them or nearby.
“Removing any barrier to save a life is an awesome opportunity and a great, proactive measure as we work to address overdose prevention in South Carolina,” LRADAC Director of Prevention Ashley Bodiford said.
A new state law removes that barrier, starting this school year.
It allows schools to keep a stock of overdose reversal drugs, such as Narcan, in their supplies of lifesaving medications.
“No one really is probably intending to have an accidental overdose, but it’s happening,” Bodiford said. “People are taking pills, they may not know what it is, or what it could have in it, or where it came from, and as a result of that, we’re seeing an increase in accidental overdoses among all populations.”
The new law also permits school nurses and other trained staff to administer the drug.
“In talking with my cohort of other nurse coordinators, some school districts have been very close to needing Narcan,” MacAdams said.
A grant through DHEC will provide a supply of Narcan to schools that want it, according to MacAdams, who said her district, Richland School District Two, plans to have the reversal drug stocked in every school.
“We could have a child who mistakenly takes something of their parent’s. We could have an adult — an employee, a visitor — and this way, we will be able to intervene if we suspect they’re the victim of an opioid overdose,” MacAdams said.
This new law is an expansion of an existing law that allows schools to have EpiPens on hand for allergic reactions.
MacAdams said the legislation is written broadly enough that could allow schools, in the future, to stock albuterol inhalers for someone with an asthma emergency.
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