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New York City public schools aren’t stocked with Narcan, officials say, despite spike in youth opioid overdoses



NEW YORK — Fentanyl is becoming a bigger danger for our kids, and teen overdoses are rising.

There’s now growing concern it may happen in schools, but are New York City Public Schools prepared?

Top federal law enforcement officials on the frontlines of the fentanyl fight say opioid overdoses among the youth are going up at alarming rates, and so are the seizures.

“Why are teens overdosing on fentanyl?” CBS2’s Jennifer Bisram asked Frank Tarentino, Special Agent in Charge at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“They’re getting these drugs online though social media,” he said.

He added, “Anyone that’s getting a drug on the street, it’s laced with fentanyl … Whether they think it’s Xanax, oxycodone, if it’s off the internet, social media, it’s illicit, illegal and deadly.”


RELATED STORY: Report shows 14% increase in opioid overdose deaths across New York state

The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overdose numbers show last year over 2,500 people in the five boroughs lost their lives, a significant increase from 2021 and 2020.

The leading cause is fentanyl. 

According to the New York City health department, 72 people ages 15-24 died from opioids in 2021, compared to 94 in 2020.

Narcan is a prescription medication that is used to reverse an opioid overdose — health officials say it can restore breathing — but CBS2 News has learned New York City Public Schools, which has over 540 high schools, doesn’t have Narcan in any of its buildings, nor is staff trained on how to use the life-saving tool should a child need it.

A spokesperson told us, Narcan is not stocked in schools, but staff is permitted to carry and administer the medication if they have training. In case of a suspected overdose, 911 is called.”

READ MORE: 5 New Rochelle school nurses honored for saving teen’s life


“It’s our sad, new reality,” New Rochelle High School nurse Diane Vetrano said.

Some schools just outside of New York City, however, are prepared for a potential overdose in the classroom or gymnasium.

“The student was unresponsive. We really had no other choice than to give Narcan,” Vetrano said.

Vetrano used Narcan to save a student’s life at New Rochelle High School in January after a suspected fentanyl overdose before paramedics even arrived to the Westchester County school.

“We are very grateful we had the opportunity to save her,” Vetrano said.

Police said the student eventually tested negative for opioid exposure.

READ MORE: Police: Student treated with Narcan tested negative for opioid exposure


On Long Island, multiple schools have confirmed to CBS, Narcan is in supply at nurses’ offices and staff, including coaches, are trained on how to use it.

“Narcan is a life saving tool. Our agents carry with them during operations in the event they encounter this poison during their searches,” Tarentino said.

The New York state health department is encouraging school districts to implement opioid overdose prevention programs and make free Narcan trainings and kits available.

Still, New York City isn’t able to provide a record of who is trained or carries it in its public schools.

In the meantime, New Rochelle school nurses say it’s easy to administer and, if used quickly with proper training, can save a life.

Source: CBS


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