The Toronto District School Board will train secondary school staff to respond to opioid overdoses.
The board voted on Feb. 7 to provide every secondary school with a naloxone kit, as part of an overdose-prevention plan implemented November 2017. Naloxone is a medication used to block the effects of opioids and is able to temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose.
The school board’s initiative, according to their Opioid Overdose Prevention Plan, is in response to the City of Toronto’s action plan on the rise of overdoses. Toronto’s annual opioid toxicity death count has been rising since 2013, with fentanyl and heroin now leading in lives claimed.
“We’re looking to begin scheduling the training once staff return from March Break next week,” said Ryan Bird, spokesperson for the TDSB.
“Following the completion of that training, naloxone kits will be distributed to schools.”
The board should be finished training staff in its 112 secondary schools before the end of April. In addition to overdose-response training, each school will have at least two staff who hold a standard first aid certificate and CPR training certificate.
“A number of TDSB staff have received training organized through Toronto Public Health, and they will, in turn, train the two to three staff members at each secondary school,” Bird said.
Toronto Public Health is working to promote public education about overdose prevention and response for high school students, including informing students how they can obtain naloxone.
TPH’s Medical Officer of Health sent communications to all Toronto school boards last fall with information about overdose prevention and response. Students and caregivers were addressed in letters.
“Included was information on how they could obtain naloxone,” said Susan Shepherd, TPH spokesperson. Shepherd manages the Drug Strategy Secretariat. Also included was how to register for TPH overdose training.
According to statistics by the City of Toronto, naloxone is administered by a community member before paramedic arrival in an average of 11 non-fatal opioid overdose cases per week. Paramedics administer naloxone in an average of nine non-fatal cases per week.
For more opioid or overdose statistics, visit TPH’s Toronto Overdose Information System website through toronto.ca.