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Drug Narcan soon available at some CUSD schools-podcast

By Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

Barring an unforeseen obstacle, the lifesaving opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan will soon be available on Claremont Unified School District high school and intermediate school campuses.

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“We have capacity with our current staff and some trained staff that was identified on campus that can also react like the CPD officers have,” said CUSD Assistant Superintendent, Human Services, Kevin Ward, referring to the district’s longstanding practice of calling the Claremont Police Department to administer Narcan in the event of an overdose on one of its 10 campuses.

Up to now this been the only option for dealing with overdoses on district campuses.
“So I think that our next step we’re trying to look at right now is finding a trainer to train the rest of our health services staff and our site administrators that aren’t trained, and then secure those dosages for at least all of our secondary sites,” Mr. Ward said.

Sourcing a Narcan trainer should be complete within the next one to three weeks. “That is our next step, to train up our office staff and have that on campus,” Mr. Ward said. After that, Narcan will be available in nurses’ offices at El Roble Intermediate School, Claremont High and San Antonio High, he added.

“I don’t know exactly the extent if it will be at all schools or not,” Mr. Ward said. “I think that’s still something we need to determine. Let me get back to you on that decision in terms of what sites have it, if not all. It’s safe to assume secondary [campuses] would be the place to start.”

District staff are drafting a recommendation to amend Policy 5141.21, “Administering Medication and Monitoring Health Conditions,” which will go before the Claremont Board of Education for a first reading at next week’s meeting on Thursday, September 23. The specific language of the amendment will be posted Monday at https://claremont-ca.schoolloop.com/board.

Until now, CUSD has had zero doses of Narcan at any of its 10 campuses. “Forever 15,” the COURIER’s investigation into the fentanyl crisis published in three installments in late July and early August, jumpstarted the discussion at the district into remedying that oversight.

Luckily, CUSD has thus far not yet reported an opioid overdose at any of its school sites. If that day does arrive—and with the fentanyl crisis worsening every day that possibility becomes more and more likely—having Narcan available quickly, on campuses, could prove to have been a lifesaving choice.

Narcan can be administered easily, with just minutes of training, through a nasal spray.

“My understanding is the training is very short and brief, and very simple,” Mr. Ward said. “I don’t anticipate it taking a long time.”

According the latest data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020 was the deadliest year on record for opioid overdose deaths, with 93,331 Americans dying from both prescription and illicit opioids. Those stats included deaths attributed to fentanyl, the massively potent opioid painkiller 100 times stronger than morphine, which were higher in 2020 than ever recorded.

“Narcan is a very effective and quick product,” said Brian Garner said, owner/pharmacist at Hendricks Pharmacy. “If parents are concerned about their teenagers, they should definitely have Narcan available.”

Narcan is affordable, and often free, and is available at several locations in and around Claremont. Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center offers it free of charge, without a doctor’s order, to minors and adults, 24-hours-day, every day, in its emergency room. Claremont Village mainstay Hendricks Pharmacy stocks it and takes all insurance plans but Kaiser. The CVS location on Foothill Blvd. and Towne Ave. also offers Narcan, available with or without a doctor’s order.

The cost of CUSD staff training and Narcan doses will be paid for out of general operating funds, Mr. Ward said.

“I don’t know if there is any special funding or grants that could be applied to it,” he said. “I kind of heard that there are some grant programs and things like that. I know the health services department was doing that research and looking into that.”

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