School nurses trained to administer naloxone for overdoses in Cabell County

Published: Apr. 18, 2016 at 11:41 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- When you think about school nurses, maybe you picture a student being treated for pink eye or the flu.

School nurses in Cabell County are preparing to take on a completely different type of responsibility.

Starting this week, nurses at every high school, middle school, and elementary in the county will be allowed to administer naloxone if someone on campus overdoses.

"It's a whole lot more serious than giving a child Vaseline for chapped lips," Spring Hill Elementary Principal Pam Bailey said.

Last week, the state board of education approved a measure that would allow school nurses to use an auto injector to administer the drug naloxone on anyone who overdoses on pills or heroin before the ambulance gets to the school.

Cabell is one of just a few counties in West Virginia doing this.

Brooke County's school system was the first to administer the drug, starting last year.

Jim Johnson, director of the Mayor's Office of Drug Control Policy, says this is purely a preventive measure.

"It's a lot like having a fire extinguisher at any public place," he said. "We're not having a rash of fires at schools, but we still have a fire extinguisher. It's the same principle."

Bailey says it's disheartening this has to be on a school nurse's radar.

"We have to be very cautious in school," she said. "You cannot give children Tylenol or aspirin or Advil or anything, but then to have something like that in a school where a nurse can administer that, it's amazing."

It's something they hope never has to be put to use, but school officials say it's better to be safe than sorry.

The Marshall University pharmacy school has been training Cabell school nurses how to administer naloxone.

The Cabell Huntington Health Department is providing the schools with the drug, Johnson says.