‘Hope is not a strategy’: District makes Narcan available in schools

(Photo: WKRN)

DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – As the opioid epidemic touches every part of Tennessee, some school districts now have Narcan available as a potentially life-saving drug, but the idea is not catching on like some state lawmakers thought it would.

Dickson County is one of the few districts where making the opioid antidote available in all secondary schools is now a policy.

“If there is an issue with society. schools reflect society,” said Dickson County Schools Student Services Director Steve Sorrells.

He credits one of the district’s nurses for what he calls “getting in front” of an epidemic in Tennessee.

“While we hope that we never have to use anything like Narcan, we still need a plan, a strategy and hope is not a strategy,” he told News 2 while walking the hallways of Dickson County High.

He showed us the tightly locked nurses office where the doses of the drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdoses is kept.

“We have standing doctors’ orders to allow that to be administered,” said the student services director. “And only by a school nurse.”

Sorrells listed some of the strict guidelines.

(Photo: WKRN)

“When you have respiratory failure or cardiac arrest, there is the suspicion of an opioid overdose or drug overdose that calls for opportunity to use the product,” he said.

State Senator Mike Bell sponsored and passed the measure allowing schools to have Narcan if they choose.

“It was a bill that one of my constituents brought to me,” the senator tells News 2. “(They) said why don’t we allow schools to keep this drug on a school campus, so that if a child does overdoses we can perhaps save their life.”

But the Bradley County lawmaker has been surprised more schools across the state have not taken advantage of the new law allowing them to have Narcan.

Steve Sorrells (Photo: WKRN)

“That somewhat disappoints me,” added Sen. Bell.  “Even the district where this …came from. They have not even done it yet, but I think they are going to.”

The senator thinks many school districts just don’t know they can legally have Narcan available.

He looks no further than himself in knowing a lot of people are recently learning about the opioid epidemic.

“Even (me), a father of five. somebody who has been in the legislature for a number of years, I haven’t realized the impact of it until just maybe in the last year or so,” said Bell.

Some schools like Metro Nashville says their nurses –who usually have more than one school each–also have access to Narcan.

In Dickson County, each of the secondary schools–including its two high schools–have a nurse.

Click here for more on Tennessee’s Opioid Crisis.