Shawnee Mission board approves move to equip school nurses with opioid overdose antidote

Photo credit Jeff Anderson. Used under a Creative Commons license.

The Shawnee Mission School Board on Monday approved the ability of school nurses to possess, store and administer Naloxone, a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses.

The move comes after the state legislature approved a law in 2017 allowing school nurses to keep the emergency opioid antagonist on school property. Over the past several month, Johnson County EMS and the department of Johnson County Health and Environment have been working with school districts — including Shawnee Mission — on a protocol for training and administration on the program.

Following the board’s unanimous approval of the agreement, it now heads to the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners for adoption.

Shelby Rebeck, the district’s coordinator for health services, said the county has seen an increased need for the live-saving drug in recent years. County officials have been working to coordinate efforts among local cities, law enforcement departments and social services agencies over the past couple years to address the growing opioid crisis. Rebeck noted in comments to the board Monday that emergency responders across the county had administered 273 doses of Naloxone last year.

Equipping school nurses with the drug would allow them to intervene should anyone — student, staff, parent or visitor — experience an opioid overdose while on district property.

“It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when we will need this life saving medication,” Rebeck said.

“We’re not anticipating this just for children in the building.

Rebeck stressed that the addition of Naloxone to the array of medications and intervention equipment available to nurses would help increase preparedness for emergencies. She likened the drug to the Epipens and AEDs stored on school property.