CLAY COUNTY – The Florida Legislature put forward a bill allowing a tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic in schools, and Clay County will join the fray, with officers carrying the chemical …
CLAY COUNTY – The Florida Legislature put forward a bill allowing a tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic in schools, and Clay County will join the fray, with officers carrying the chemical naloxone this year.
With the governor’s signature on Senate Bill 544, naloxone – also known as Narcan – can now be carried in schools. Naloxone is used to prevent fatal overdoses. It can be inhaled or injected.
The bill proposed by Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Hillsborough, says that, “A public school may purchase a supply of the opioid antagonist naloxone from a wholesale distributor … or may enter into an arrangement with a wholesale distributor or manufacturer … at fair-market, free, or reduced prices for use in the event that a student has an opioid overdose. The naloxone must be maintained in a secure location on the public school’s premises.”
Clay County School District Police Department Kenneth Wagner said his officers will carry the inhalant version of naloxone. It is their first year with the chemical. Wagner said he welcomed carrying naloxone in schools, though it is sad it has come to this point as a society and there could come a time where naloxone is desperately needed.
Drugs are being infiltrated into the country, Wagner added. It’s concerning but necessary for officers in schools to carry another layer that protects those suffering from addiction.
“It protects our students. (Opioid abuse) is generally outside in the community as opposed to schools, but schools are a part of the community,” Wagner said. “In an emergency, a person who happens to be armed with Narcan can save a life."
Fentanyl is one of the most commonly-caused fatal overdoses. Drugs can be cut with the substance, or it can be absorbed through touch.
“It could be an accidental occurrence, fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin,” Wagner said. “In those clandestine types of environments, the innocent can fall victim to things like that. It’s just a touch.”
There is no off-season for the Clay County District Schools Police Department. They receive training in paramedicine and continue to facilitate events, Wagner said.
“Now the legislation has changed, it opened a gateway for us serving the community,” Wagner said of Senate Bill 544. “I’m glad we have the ability to safeguard and help community members. It’s just one more layer of helping people.”
Wagner remains positive about the school year that begins Aug. 10. The department is fully staffed on every school campus, he said.
“I think the 2022-2023 school year is going to be one that’s top of the charts and one where everyone is coming together and learning how to deal with a crisis,” Wagner said. “I don’t think anything can stop us and on a positive note, we’re always moving forward.”
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