Catholic schools discuss optional opioid overdose awareness training

A draft of a new Opioid Overdose Recognition and Response Guidelines was reviewed at the regular meeting of the Medicine Hat Catholic School Division board meeting on Nov. 8.

Hugh Lehr, associate superintendent Learning Services, presented the draft to the board. Board chair Kathy Glasgo asked if people in schools were being trained, but at this point it is a voluntary option with training done by AHS.

Trustee Dick Mastel wondered how much more teachers were expected to do. Lehr replied that other school districts have not only trained staff but students as well. Opioid overdoses are most often accidental and to have the overdose-reversing drug Nalaxone available is the best option available.

Superintendent Dwayne Zarichny brought up an incident where a student went into anaphylactic shock while at school and died due to an EpiPen not being available. The incident happened well over a decade ago but staff at the school still haven’t gotten over it.

“It’s one more thing,” Zarichny said. “If we have the unfortunate circumstance, if that occurs in one of our buildings and we are able to at least provide someone who is capable of giving it (the medication), it’s important for that to be there.”

Trustee David Leahy mentioned that one of the teachers administered Naloxone to someone either on or near school property. He thinks it’s important to recognize how much schools do these days and discussed drug houses. Lehr pointed out that many household medications have a large percentage of opioids in them that can cause significant damage and death and incidents aren’t only related to hard drug use.

Those staff who wish will be trained in overdose recognition and response, both with and without naloxone. Naloxone can temporarily reverse an overdose if administered immediately, and kits will be stored with other emergency medical supplies at schools.

SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News