COLUMBIA COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - A life-saving drug meant to reverse opioid overdoses is now in some schools across Georgia. That includes Columbia County schools.
Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 121, allowing people who aren't health care professionals to administer Naloxone - better known as Narcan.
Columbia County school leaders are training staff members and adding it to their emergency kits. A drug that is normally seen in the hands of law enforcement is making its way into classrooms across the country.
The CDC says more than 60% of overdose deaths nationwide involve an opioid. That number continues to rise making it important for more people to get their hands on Narcan. "It's a great way to save their lives and help get them help," says Mark Newton, MD, Emergency Physician of Doctors Hospital.
Adapt Pharma, a company that makes the drug recognizes just how important this is with the increase in opioid addiction and overdoses in the United States.
They're offering two free doses to any high school in the country. Here in the CSRA, Columbia County schools are taking advantage. "I thought it was a good idea to have it and when it became available we immediately got in on the program," comments Lisa Whitlock, the Director of School Health in Columbia County Schools.
The drug reverses the effects of an overdose, helping people who are overdosing breathe normally again.
"It saves the brain, it saves your heart, just every organ system. It saves a life," says Dr. Newton.
School leaders added Narcan to the emergency bags at the end of last school year. All school safety officers, nurses, and administrators are trained to give the nasal spray to anyone on the campus who needs it. Whitlock says, "We're all about taking care of students and making sure they're safe with us, and this is another tool that we will use to save a life if we need to."
Local emergency room doctors say they see a case where Narcan is used daily. They are excited to hear of another group working toward prevention."It's not just students, its also workers, bystanders, visitors...It's great to have a life-saving option," says Dr. Newton.
Without Senate Bill 121...it wouldn't even be an option.
The Columbia County School district has not had to use Narcan yet. They have the drug as a precaution, and they are trained and ready if the time comes.