The full Senate has given approval to a measure aimed at helping save lives if students overdose on opioids while at school. State Sen. Greg McCortney is the author of Senate Bill 85, which adds school nurses or other designated employees to those who can administer life-saving opiate antagonists. The bill was approved Tuesday unanimously.
Currently, state law includes first-responders, including emergency medical technicians, law enforcement and firefighters. McCortney’s bill would amend that law to include school medical personnel or an employee designated by the school’s administration to be able to administer opiate antagonists, a treatment that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, allowing time to seek emergency medical care.
McCortney said the bill was a request from the State Department of Education.
“Countering an overdose with a product like Narcan can literally mean the difference between life and death,” said McCortney, R-Ada. “This bill simply clarifies our statutes so school employees can be assured that they have the same legal protections given to others under state law.”
Not all schools have a nurse on staff full-time so the bill allows administrators to designate other staffers to administer the medication to a student showing signs of an overdose. Under SB 85, those designated would undergo training by the Department of Health, law enforcement or another appropriate entity to learn how to recognize overdose symptoms, how to perform basic resuscitation techniques and how to properly administer an opiate antagonist.
According to the State Department of Health, opioids are the most common class of drugs involved in overdose deaths in Oklahoma, with prescription drug overdoses killing more Oklahomans than car accidents. The Centers for Disease Control reports that nationally, opioids were involved in 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017.
The National Association of School Nurses endorses making opiate antagonists available for use in schools and the U.S. Surgeon General has encouraged the use of antagonists to prevent overdose deaths.
SB 85 now moves to the House for further consideration.