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Health experts explain role of Narcan, push to get it into schools across Kansas

Naloxone, more commonly referred to as “Narcan,” is a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid in your system.
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 11:35 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Naloxone, more commonly referred to as “Narcan,” is a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid in your system. Dr. Gregory Lakin, with the Center for Change, said it’s simple to use and can be a determining factor between life and death.

He said shooting the medication into a nostril once is usually all it takes to work, but with fentanyl, a second shot might be needed two to three minutes later.

“But it’s truly lifesaving time and time again,” Dr. Lakin said.

And as schools, law enforcement offices and other organizations are using the medication, or are considering it, the question comes: “is there any risk?”

“If you don’t have any opioids in your system, it’s not going to do any kind of side effect or any kind of damage,” Dr. Lakin said. “So, this is a safe drug, and it is designed only for those who have an opioid overdose.”

Eyewitness News also spoke with Kansas School Nurses Association President Rhonda Hutchinson who advocates for schools to have available supplies of Narcan. She said not enough districts have the medication onsite, and that needs to change because every second matters.

“These drugs are our first line of defense up until the ambulance gets there,” Hutchinson said.

She said EMS often can’t be fast enough in situations involving opioid overdoses and believes every school district in Kansas should supply the Narcan.

“We’ve had a law in Kansas that allows Narcan to be dispensed by pharmacies since 2019,” Hutchinson said. “However, a lot of schools do not do that, I’m not sure exactly why. It’s possible they just don’t know how to go about it, or they can’t even do that.”

We know of a few school districts in Kanas that do keep Narcan. These districts include Maize and Haysville in the Wichita area.

“Student safety is our priority, and preparing for emergencies is an essential part of that,” a statement from the Haysville school district said. “It is an unfortunate reality that we may encounter a student who is experiencing an opioid overdoses. Developing an emergency protocol that includes Narcan was essential to save lives.”

Wichita Public Schools, Kansas largest school district, said it is considering the expanded availability of Narcan at its schools for next year.

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