Releases list of broad organizational support for legislation
Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo on Tuesday announced that he will be introducing legislation to mandate that all high schools (grades 9-12) across the state – public, private and charter – carry Narcan, the opioid and heroin antidote that is saving lives across the state and nation.
“It’s unfortunate that this legislation is necessary, but the reality is Narcan saves lives. We need it available wherever our children learn and play,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “I’m grateful for the school nurses and school employees who will be taking upon the duty to act when a crisis hits.”
Under the legislation, the school nurse will have the primary responsibility for the emergency administration of an opioid antidote, and other employees can be designated to dispense the antidote on a volunteer basis.
The bill also directs the Department of Education to develop policies for the administration and training of staff for opioid antidotes. Likewise, the bill provides immunity from liability for school nurses, designated employees and the school district and its agents who act in good faith for the dispensing of Narcan, similar to previous legislation dealing with epinephrine. Lastly, the legislation stipulates that school districts may enter into shared services arrangements for the provision of opioid antidotes.
Mazzeo also announced support for this legislation from the New Jersey State School Nurses Association, New Jersey School Boards Association and the New Jersey Education Association.
“School nurses are on the front lines of any health crisis in our schools and have seen an increase in opioid abuse in recent years. We understand the need for school districts to have a policy like this in place, have always been ready to take action when it’s needed, and we will continue to act to save lives,” said Anna Tupes, President of the New Jersey State School Nurses Association. “We are grateful to Assemblyman Mazzeo for introducing this bill and including us in the process of developing this bill and for introducing it.”
Since 2004, over 5,000 people have died from heroin-related deaths in New Jersey, with over 50 percent of them happening since 2011. New Jersey’s heroin death rate is triple the national average. In 2014, the state reported that 28,332 people were admitted to some sort of treatment facility due to a heroin and opioid addiction. Likewise, according to the Governor’s office, Narcan has been deployed over 11,000 times throughout the state since 2014 and from November 2015 to April 2016 over 1,700 individuals have been trained to administer Narcan.
“We must continue to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic in our community. This legislation will be another tool in our arsenal to make Narcan readily available where we may need it the most. If this legislation saves one kids life, it will be worth it,” concluded Mazzeo.
The legislation can be viewed here. Mazzeo intends to introduce it at the next General Assembly quorum.