Ottawa elementary schools next in line for naloxone kits

Now that Ottawa's largest school board has finished installing naloxone kits in all its high schools, it's turning its attention to its elementary schools.

All 32 OCDSB high schools already equipped with opioid antidote kits

Naloxone kits are now in all Ottawa-Carleton District School Board high schools, and could soon be coming to the board's elementary schools. (Danny Globerman/CBC)

Now that Ottawa's largest school board has finished installing naloxone kits in all its high schools, it's turning its attention to its elementary schools.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is evaluating when, how and which elementary schools could receive the opioid antidote kits, the board confirmed in an email to CBC News.

Currently all 32 high schools and alternative schools are equipped with the kits, which includes two doses of naloxone nasal spray and a disposable breathing mask, the email stated.

Principals and vice principals at those schools have been trained to use the kits, while teachers, educational assistants and support staff who have volunteered are being trained in CPR and first aid, said Sharlene Hunter, a communications officer with the board. She expects the first aid training to be completed by the end of the year.

As of Friday, none of the kits had been used, Hunter said.

'Smartie parties'

Dr. Jane Liddle said she's aware of children as young as 11 who have taken various drugs including marijuana and ecstasy, which could be laced with other drugs such as fentanyl. 

Your first time could be your last.- Jane Liddle, Barrhaven pediatrician

"Half the time they don't know what they took," said the Barrhaven pediatrician, who counsels patients as young as eight about the dangers of drug use.

"There have been what we call 'Smartie parties' where things get taken from everybody's drug cupboard at home and thrown in a bowl and people take a handful of stuff and they don't know what they took," Liddle said.

Liddle said having naloxone kits in schools is as necessary as having defibrillators, even if they're never used. However that needs to come with honest discussions about why the kits are there, she said.

In October, Ottawa police confirmed  the first instance of carfentanil found in street drugs in the city.

The drug samples were collected during the summer and tested by Health Canada. Carfentanil is considered more dangerous than fentanyl and can be 10,000 times more potent than morphine. It's often used as an elephant tranquilizer and the equivalent of a few grains of salt of the drug can kill a person, Liddle said.

"I think we just gotta keep talking. I think parents, youth, they just need to understand how dangerous this is, and that nothing is safe," she said.

"Your first time could be your last."