CAMDEN COUNTY, NJ - Three high schools in Camden County will soon have the life saving drug Narcan readily available if someone is overdosing from heroin.
Officials say because New Jersey’s opioid epidemic is so severe, schools in Camden County are taking preventative steps to combat fatal heroin overdoses.
Louis Cappelli is the Camden County Freeholder Director and told PHL17 Morning News, “In Camden County, over the past three years, police officers have saved over 360 lives through the use of Narcan. So it has been extremely successful - and what we're thinking in schools is; prevention is the best medicine.”
At the end of last year, the Black Horse Pike Regional Superintendent, Dr. Brian Repici, introduced legislation to supply Narcan in all high schools, so a school nurse could administer it to a student of staff member if necessary.
Cappelli said, “We are hoping other school districts follow the lead of the black horse pike. There is not a reason in the world to not do this.”
The Board of Freeholders, the Camden County Addiction Awareness Task Force, local law enforcement and Black Horse Pike Regional School Superintendent Dr. Brian Repici introduced model legislation to supply Narcan in all high schools. At the end of last year the school district and its school board passed a groundbreaking regulation that would allow school nurses to carry and deploy Naloxone if a student or employee is experiencing an overdose. Prior to this regulation the medication was not carried in the schools.
Freeholder Director, and founder and liaison to the addiction awareness task force, Louis Cappelli pointed to the work Repici is doing as innovative and a model for every other high school in New Jersey.
“The heroin epidemic has hit home for every family in Camden County and it’s time we recognize the benefit of having this life saving antidote in our schools,” Cappelli said. “Brian and the board have done the right thing by putting the health and welfare of their student body and employees first. This initiative is rooted in common sense by having medical professionals trained for any situation that could occur on their campuses. Our goal is for all high schools to follow Brian’s lead.”
The Black Horse Pike Regional School District is made up of three high schools, Triton, Highland and Timber Creek. The district combines three municipalities that share the Black Horse Pike in Gloucester Township, Runnemede and Bellmawr and the total size of the school system is about 3,800 students.
“As a result of what I believe is our duty to care for children, our view is that Narcan, a potentially life-saving antidote, is not different than any other dispensation of medication. We took the steps, in consultation with our Board of Education, school nurses, Student Assistance Coordinators, the Camden County Addiction Task Force, and our local Police to develop policy language that would allow our nursing staff to utilize Narcan,” Repici said. “The Board of Education was fully supportive, our nurses and Student Assistance Coordinators, Principals, were all fully supportive because we all shared the same view – that this medication could potentially save the life of one of our children. We are hopeful that we never have to use it, but our school nurses are trained to use the medication if the situation arises and our District policy permits and supports that implementation.”