Increase in Fentanyl Overdoses Results in Schools Stocking Narcan for Emergency Use


Lilly Cameron

Two narcan doses are kept under possession of the school resource officer, Deputy Cavo.

As the rise of fentanyl overdose cases in America threatens the safety of americans and even school age kids, surrounding counties Fairfax and Alexandria have taken proactive measures to assist the youth by stocking Narcan (Naloxone), an overdose reversal drug, in schools and there is discussion of taking similar actions in Loudoun County. Any policy increasing the number of Narcan doses in schools would expand on the already two doses that are kept in LCPS schools under the possession of Security Resource Officers (SRO).


Narcan is administered nasally, and reverses the effects of opioid drugs including fentanyl, a commonly illicitly manufactured synthetic opioid that can have lethal effects even with small doses.


There have been 17 cases of opioid overdoses in Loudoun County since September 1, five of which have involved juveniles according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. Lieutenant Joshua Brambaugh of LCSO said, “Overdoses can occur for many different reasons. Some are intentional, while others are accidental,” and therefore cannot be attributed to just one cause. 


However, Nicole Wong, school nurse, brings up the lack of regulation in drugs that come in vapes that put juveniles at risk of unintentional overdoses. “So you don’t even know what dose you’re getting, and it could be too much [or] could be laced with something and the next thing you know, you’re unconscious,” Wong said.


According to Brumbaugh, although all LCSO SRO officers are issued two doses of Narcan “which are readily available for quick deployment if needed,” LCPS would be responsible for any creation of policy or stocking of the drug in schools or other LCPS facilities.


According to Andrew Cavo, Deputy and Dominion SRO, when someone is suspected of having overdosed, the procedure is to use Narcan. More than one dose of Narcan may be administered to an individual if they don’t respond to the first dose. “So that’s one thing that is very beneficial about it, that if it’s not what’s needed, it won’t hurt the person at all,” Cavo said.


Currently, individuals cannot be arrested or prosecuted for seeking medical help in the event where they or the person they are assisting with seeking medical attention has overdosed according to Virginia Law. “Any narcotics that are observed or seen on scene for an individual that’s overdosing cannot be used against them, because the person’s safety and rendering aid to them to live is what’s most important,” Cavo said.


An increased supply of Narcan in schools imposes an extra safety measure for high school aged kids. “If a situation arose in which a student was overdosing, and we didn’t have the tools to help provide for them, that would be devastating,” Signorelli said.


“So is it scary to think about it happening here? Yes. Do I understand why there’s a thought that we need to have more [doses available] in the schools? I absolutely understand. Because it’s a huge problem across the country, and [it’s] certainly concerning that it could happen here,” Signorelli said.


According to Wong, if more doses of narcan were to be stocked in schools to combat overdoses, herself, security and the SRO would be certified to administer the drug. Cavo said it would be a possibility that administration would become certified as well and that other teachers should be given the option to become certified. “It’s always better to have more people trained and prepared than not enough. So I really think it should be offered to any employee in the school if they would like to know how to use it or not,” Cavo said.


Aside from drugs like Narcan that reverse the effects of an overdose, Loudoun County schools have substance abuse education in place to combat drug abuse in kids in high school. “LCPS has staffed our high school with a student system specialist who intervenes on behalf and works with students who may be experimenting with substance abuse,” Signorelli said.