AKRON, OH (WOIO) - Akron Public Schools will begin their school year on Wednesday with all 38 of their resource officers equipped with Narcan nasal spray, which can reverse an Opioid overdose.
School officials say that their school resource officers, who are also Akron Police Officers, are already equipped and using Narcan when they are working their shifts as police officers. So, it was suggested the officers keep the Narcan on them when they work in school buildings.
The school board's summer vote to have Narcan available in their middle and high school buildings raised eyebrows and drew phone calls from around the country.
Dan Rambler is the Director of Student Support Services and Security for Akron City Schools.
"There was a lot of community, I guess, surprise that we were doing it because there was a feeling that if we have narcan in the schools then it's like enticing people to use the drug. I would say that's a pretty crazy idea. If people are using those types of drugs, they aren't looking for having the antidote to it, they are using those drugs regardless," said Rambler.
Each officer will carry two Narcan nasal spray doses.
"We wanted to go with what APD already had which Is the nasal injections, so if someone were passed out, and they were showing some signs that they had overdosed, then they would put it in your nose just like you do nose d rops, and you squirt it in. Sometimes police have said they have to use a couple of the injections. So they will have two injectors that they can utilize," added Rambler.
Akron school officials say no one has ever overdosed on school property during school hours.
The school's decision has drawn criticism and praise from parents.
"I have a lot of friends that have lost friends and family members to the horrible epidemic that is going on. It's awful and it's scary, but I feel like putting it in the schools is almost like promoting to kids - it's okay to do drugs because if you do, do it, we have Narcan to help you," said Brandy Bright, a parent living in Akron.
Nicole Foster is also an Akron area parent who thinks Narcan should be on hand just in case.
"I know a lot of people that have been on heroin, and they have recovered from it without the drug," said Foster.
Yaleshli Valentin said she had no idea Narcan was going to be made available in Akron area Schools.
"I actually didn't even know that, but it is a good thing to me," said Valentin.
Rambler says having Narcan on hand is much like having a defibrillator available just in case someone were to go into cardiac arrest.
"My biggest thing is life is life, and at the end of the day, whether you believe we should have Narcan in schools or not, or if we are promoting drug use - at the end of the day life is life and if somebody is making a horrible decision, and they are using drugs, and we have the ability with the school resource officers at least to keep them alive, we want to keep people alive," said Rambler.
Narcan nasal sprays are free to the Akron City High Schools for this first year. Beyond that, they will cost the district $1800, every 18 months.