House Bill adds Narcan to list of lifesaving medications in schools

If an overdose were to happen on school grounds, a nurse or any school employee can administer...
If an overdose were to happen on school grounds, a nurse or any school employee can administer the life-saving treatment if they're trained under the state health department's guidelines.(Live 5)
Published: May. 20, 2023 at 5:48 PM EDT|Updated: May. 21, 2023 at 1:51 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Gov. Henry McMaster has officially signed a bill into law that will add overdose reversal drugs, such as Narcan, to the list of life-saving medications in schools.

If an overdose were to happen on school grounds, a nurse or any school employee can administer the life-saving treatment if they’re trained under the state health department’s guidelines.

WakeUp Carolina, a nonprofit recovery organization, says this bill is not a want but a need.

The group says overdoses affect all ages in all zip codes and counties and they’ve even seen middle schoolers overdose in the area.

“And when you lose a life, especially if it’s a young adult, then we react too late,” Nanci Steadman Shipman, executive director of WakeUp Carolina, says.

Shipman says House Bill 4122 is a good way to start the conversation around the stigma of using hard drugs.

“If we do not have it, then what do we do?” Shipman says. “Do we wait on our first responders who get stuck in traffic? Or someone that lives in a rural county to desperately get to the school? That’s unacceptable.”

Tim Maguire, senior program director at WakeUp Carolina, says this bill is a sign of hope.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions that people might think it can condone use, and really there’s another population that has had impact,” Maguire says. “...And that it can save lives.”

Berkeley County School District and Dorchester District 2 say they will be working with state officials on complying with this program. DD2 adds their school resource officers are already allowed to carry Narcan on campus because they’re law enforcement officers.

Charleston County School District provided this statement from their Director of Nursing, Ellen Nitz:

“We are eager to implement H.4122 at Charleston County School District schools with direction from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Our Nursing Services Department has been working diligently over the past year with DHEC and the School Health Committee, an advisory board to the district, to have Narcan available to the school nurses. This bill takes our efforts one step further by allowing ‘designated trained personnel’ to access emergency medications and not be subject to civil or criminal liability for administering a lifesaving medication. We are working to have a plan in place by the start of the 2023-2024 school year.”

Dorchester District 4′s director of human resources, Dr. LaToya Adams, sent this statement:

While we at Dorchester School District Four hope we never have the need to administer Narcan, we are pleased with Governor McMaster’s decision to sign House Bill 4122. The District plans to have School Nurses train specified Unlicensed Assistive Personnel(UAP) located within our school buildings on how to administer Narcan on someone that is experiencing an overdose emergency. School Nurses will also train the UAPs on what symptoms or behaviors to look for in identifying someone who may be in need of the Narcan medication.”

There’s also another bill that’s currently going through committee that would actually require these schools to have a supply of opioid antidotes.

WakeUp Carolina encourages those that want it passed to reach out to school and elected officials to ensure that every child’s life can be protected by this medication if anything were to happen.