Lewiston school board approves Narcan training for staff

LEWISTON — School staff will soon have the opportunity to receive training in recognizing and treating opioid overdoses using Narcan.

Lewiston School District substance abuse specialist Vicky Wiegman asked Langlais to present the recommendation to the school committee, which unanimously approved the proposal.

Wiegman encouraged the committee to think not just of students, but also of community members who enter buildings.

There are few to no negative effects from the drug, which is administered as a nasal spray, she added. If there is a suspicion of an overdose, the drug can only help.

Resource officers carry Narcan, Langlais said, but he hopes to make the drug more accessible. He plans to encourage nurses and administrative staff to attend the training, but he will support any member of staff who wishes to attend.

David Bilodeau, options liaison for Androscoggin County at Tri-County Mental Health Services, said he will provide free doses of Narcan and training at school.

In his role, Bilodeau works with all law enforcement agencies in Androscoggin County to track overdoses. Last week there were 15 in Lewiston, he said.

“We come across fentanyl-containing marijuana in Lewiston,” he said. “So a kid who smokes just a little bit of weed can overdose…that’s a big concern because even if kids don’t do drugs, if they smoke the wrong joint, they could overdose. And it’s growing, the numbers are getting scary.

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that looks like morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. Like morphine, it is generally used to treat patients with severe pain.

Almost all the members of the school committee expressed their approval. Ward 2 representative Janet Beaudoin said she was initially hesitant about the proposal, but a discussion with local police helped change her mind.

“I was really hesitant about it, just because I don’t feel like it’s an issue with school-aged kids,” she said. “I see the benefits of that and I will support that.”

“I would rather you had it and never used it,” Bilodeau said, “but if you use it once in 10 years and save a child’s life, it could be your child. It could be my child. I can’t say enough how highly I recommend having it on hand.

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