Bill Would Allow School Nurses to Administer Opioid Antidote During an Emergency
Legislation Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Joseph Lagana, Bob Andrzejczak, Andrew Zwicker, Bruce Land, Daniel Benson and Joann Downey sponsored to require schools to maintain a supply of an opioid antidote was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-4177) would require high schools to maintain a supply of naloxone hydrochloride, such as Narcan or a similar opioid antidote, and permit the school nurse to administer the antidote to a student or staff member who is experiencing an overdose. The board of education may designate additional employees who may be trained and authorized to administer the antidote in the absence of the nurse.
“Narcan has been proven to save lives,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Having it readily available in schools can help ensure that our schools are ready to respond in every emergency situation.”
“In the same way that schools are prepared to deal with life-threatening incidents like allergic reactions and cardiac arrest, they also should be equipped to deal with overdoses,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “We have a means of saving children’s lives, and there’s no excuse for failure to employ it.”
“Every parent who sends his or her children to school for the day wants to know that it’s a safe place for them to be in an emergency,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “All schools in New Jersey should be equipped to act if a student or anyone else at the school has an overdose.”
“Our response to the opioid epidemic in New Jersey must go beyond ‘Just say no,'” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Having Narcan in schools is one element of a larger comprehensive effort to stem the tide of this enormous public health challenge.”
“Ensuring the safety of every student must be a priority for all schools in New Jersey,” said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “Part of that is being ready to respond in a life-threatening emergency like a drug overdose.”
“Narcan is a resource that we’ve seen save lives as New Jersey works to overcome a major problem with opioid drugs,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex), chair of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. “Making this antidote available in schools will ensure that school nurses can take action to help students in a crisis.”
“Ideally, no student would use drugs, but the reality is that kids in New Jersey – whether their parents know it or not – are using them and are dying,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “This legislation acknowledges that hard truth and responds accordingly.”
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, of which Lagana is vice-chair.