Knox County Schools approved for grant to put overdose antidote in schools

FILE - This May 13, 2015, file photo shows the contents of a drug overdose rescue kit at a training session on how to administer naloxone, which reverses the effects of heroin and prescription painkillers, in Buffalo, N.Y. In addition to checking out and re-shelving books, San Francisco public library staffers may soon be trained to administer medication to reverse heroin overdoses among the growing number of opioid users who are homeless. (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson, File)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County School Board has accepted a $21,000 grant to put naloxone kits in schools.

The drug naloxone is sometimes called a “save shot” or a “rescue shot” because of its ability to bring someone back from an overdose involving opioids. It has long been used in hospitals and by emergency medical technicians, but there is now a movement to expand access to it as the state of Tennessee battles opioid addiction.

Knoxville Police Department began issuing naloxone to officers in September 2015. Opioid and heroin related hospitalizations have increased by 72 percent in Tennessee since 2011, according to a study by the Sycamore Institute.

“I think anytime we can do something to create a safer campus that’s a good thing. We are training our school officers our school nurses to administer the naloxone should that occasion arise,” said Melissa Massie, Executive Director of Student Support Services for Knox County Schools.

Massie said there hasn’t been an overdose related issue on campus, but the drug could be used to help a parent or visitor that happens to overdose on campus.

“When you think about what the need is you think about the state of Tennessee being a lead in overdoses, and East Tennessee having an even bigger problem. You just need to know it’s not a school issue, it really is a community issue,” said Massie.

Massie said the school system expects the naloxone kits to be at schools in the next few weeks.

Forty-six states, including Tennessee have laws that allow medical professionals to prescribe or dispense naloxone. In February, the White House proposed $1.1 billion to fight the opioid overdose epidemic, including $500 million to help states expand prescription drug overdose prevention, increase treatment and expand access to naloxone.

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