British Columbia

All B.C. high schools need naloxone kits, school trustee says

Maple Ridge School Trustee Susan Carr wants naloxone kits and training made available at all high schools across B.C. because of the fentanyl crisis.

Fentanyl, overdoses have already claimed 488 lives this year in B.C.

Pictured here — a take-home naloxone kit. Naloxone can be used to block the effects of opioids like fentanyl, especially in overdose. (Stefan Labbe/ CBC)

In the midst of a fentanyl epidemic, one school board trustee is proposing that naloxone — the antidote to fentanyl — be available at high schools across the province.

"High schools in particular seem to be the age where the experimenting of drugs seems to be starting or ramping up in youth," said Susan Carr, a school trustee for Maple Ridge.

The deadly opioid fentanyl can be added to cocaine or marijuana by drug dealers and unknowingly ingested by recreational drug users.

According to the most recent report from the B.C. Coroners Service, Maple Ridge has seen 20 overdose deaths from January to August this year.

This is the third highest number of deaths in the Fraser Valley region behind Surrey with 62 deaths and Abbotsford with 23 deaths.

"It's having a huge impact on our community … But it's not just our community, it's everywhere. Everybody seems to know somebody who's been affected by this."

Carr said she has heard some young people within the community already carry personal naloxone kits, but is advocating for school-based kits and teacher and staff training.

While she said there has been no direct evidence of a student using fentanyl in school, she said the schools should be prepare just like they would for other emergencies like earthquakes.

"I hope a kid never goes down in a school from an overdose situation, but you just never know," she said. "But [training would] create a comfort level where if something were to happen, we would be prepared."

Carr said parents in her community have been very supportive of the proposal, and she hopes to persuade the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health to develop a provincial protocol.

In the meantime, Carr encourages parents to attend a community forum on fentanyl held in Maple Ridge at Westview Secondary School on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. PT.

With files from The Early Edition

To hear the interview, click on the link labelled High schools need naloxone kits, trustee says