Volusia County, Florida – In a bid to combat the growing opioid crisis, Karen Chaprek, the Executive Director of Volusia County Recovery Alliance, is urging Volusia County Schools to provide Narcan kits to their school staff. According to Chaprek, with the proper training, Narcan is a simple tool that can save lives. This call for action is receiving support from Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who believes that having more staff equipped with Narcan will significantly improve response times in case of an overdose.
Sheriff Chitwood expressed his regret that such measures have become necessary, stating, “It’s sad that I think it’s necessary.” He highlighted that school resource officers, deputies, and over 100 guardians on school campuses already carry Narcan. Emphasizing the importance of time in saving someone from an overdose, he believes that the more staff armed with Narcan, the better the chances of preventing tragic outcomes.
The urgency of this issue is underscored by recent incidents in the county. In July, a 17-year-old in DeLand tragically lost their life after consuming fentanyl-laced narcotics. Another student from DeLand High School had a medical episode in the school’s bathroom after using a fentanyl-laced vape pen, as reported by investigators. Just this month, a 15-year-old student from Deltona High School was caught vaping in a bathroom, and subsequent tests on his vape pen revealed the presence of THC and fentanyl, according to the sheriff’s office.
The alarming trend of younger students being exposed to dangerous substances is deeply concerning. Sheriff Chitwood expressed his dismay, stating, “Getting reports from school employees that kids as young as 8 are vaping because the older kids are giving it to them… Where are we headed? What is going on?”
In response to the push for Narcan in schools, the Volusia County School Board has requested more information on the topic and is engaging in ongoing discussions. Some board members have expressed concerns about potential liability issues. However, Chaprek urges the district to trust the process, asserting that it is better to have Narcan and not need it than the other way around. She questioned, “If you have a chance to save a life, then why wouldn’t you?”
While Chaprek believes liability should not be a major concern due to the Good Samaritan Act, which provides immunity when emergency services are rendered in good faith, it is important to note that this law does not specifically protect the organization where the incident occurs. Sheriff Chitwood also weighed in on the matter, stating, “There is liability in everything we do. Here’s the other option, let the kid lay there and die because you were worried about liability.”
The Volusia County School Board has decided to schedule a workshop to further educate themselves about Narcan before making any decisions. As the opioid crisis continues to affect communities nationwide, the implementation of Narcan in schools could prove to be a crucial step in saving lives and addressing the alarming rise in opioid-related incidents among students.
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