At Monday's Board of Regents meeting, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said she hopes more New York schools will take advantage of the state's free access to heroin and opioid reversal drugs like Narcan. A day later, our Matt Hunter talked to administrators at one of the few local schools already keeping the potentially life-saving medication on campus.
SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – Like virtually every community in the state, South Glens Falls has felt the impact of the nation's increasingly deadly heroin and opioid abuse epidemic.
"We have had students approach us and talk to us about drug abuse in their history," said Bristie Tracy, the nurse supervisor at the South Glens Falls School District.
"Every day in our local ERs, we are seeing numerous patients come in that have been treated with opioid antagonists like Narcan in the field or are already in an overdose, and they have been brought in by EMS unresponsive."
A former paramedic and hospital nurse before starting at the school district, Tracy convinced the South Glens Falls Board of Education to acquire 20 naloxone, or Narcan, overdose reversal kits from the state last April.
"When you talk about the statistics of how many students per population are involved in drug use or abuse, it makes sense to have that on hand," Tracy said Tuesday.
During Monday's Board of Regents meeting in Albany, state officials said they're hopeful every school in the state would soon take advantage of the Department of Health's free access to naloxone kits and training.
"I give credit to the Board of Education and the commissioner for really taking a stance as to how important it is to provide this resource," South Glens Falls School District Superintendent Mike Patton said.
In South Glens Falls, naloxone training was provided to all five nurses at the high school and middle schools, where students are most at risk to use drugs.
"We haven't had to use it -- which, ultimately, that is our goal -- but at the same time, we want to make sure our students and staff and community members have it available to them in a time of need," Patton said.
According to the State Education Department, South Glens Falls is one of just four Capital Region School Districts certified to have Naloxone on hand. As of the end of 2016, fewer than 60 districts across the state were doing the same. Patton says he sees no reason why more schools shouldn't take advantage of it.
"Hopefully, it is going to gain a lot of traction across the state," Patton said.
"I find it unimaginable to not have it as a school district," Tracy said.