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'It is a simple, easy, lifesaving approach' | All New Britain middle and high schools will soon have Narcan available

Training for staff on how to use the medication will start next week, officials said.

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — Following the overdose death of a 13-year-old Hartford student, towns and cities across Connecticut are working to get Narcan, also known as naloxone, in schools.

Currently, New Britain school nurses have Narcan at New Britain High School, Brookside School, Roosevelt Early Learning Center, and New Britain Transitional Center. However, they're now working on getting Narcan to all high schools and middle schools. Next week, they'll be training administrators on how to use the life-saving drug.

"It makes me feel safer, that if something happens to my kid, they have something that will help them," said Anthony Davis, a New Britain Parent.

The effort is led by those with the New Britain Recovers Opioid Task Force, established by city leaders back in January 2019. New Britain EMS crews will be conducting the training.

"It is a simple, easy, lifesaving approach that will help us reduce the death rate from opioids," said Chief Bruce Baxter, CEO of New Britain EMS.

RELATED: Hartford to supply schools with Narcan in the wake of student death

Opioid use in general is something Baxter said has increased throughout the pandemic. From 2020 to 2021 alone, New Britain saw a 32% increase in 911 calls for opioid overdoses. However, they have not seen one overdose in people 18 years or younger in the last year.

"It doesn't mean that opioids aren't prevalent and accessible to children," Baxter said.

Those with New Britain Recovers have been tracking who exactly is impacted the most by opioid overdoses. Mallory Deprey, Community Services Program Manager for New Britain, said it typically impacts people ranging from 30-65 years old.

"And while we know that those aren't necessarily our kids that are experiencing the overdose, those are their parents. So that's the perfect age group for older cousins, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, grandparents, whoever might be within their world," Deprey said.

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In Hartford, a 13-year-old student at Sport and Medical Sciences Academy died after overdosing on fentanyl while at school. Because of that, the task force in New Britain knew they needed to get more Narcan in schools.

"The superintendent has opened the doors and said, 'Yes I want this in my schools.' And we said perfect, we're ready to go," Deprey said.

At first, administrators will get the Narcan training. Eventually, they hope all teachers and staff will know what it is and how to use it. This is their goal.

"Every teacher has an overdose rescue kit in their classroom and has immediate access to Narcan," Baxter said.

RELATED: 'It’s dangerous and it’s a poison' | State leaders vow action on opioid epidemic in Connecticut after student's death

New Britain EMS is also drafting a curriculum to add to health classes given at New Britain schools, where students will learn about Narcan as first aid.

"We need to educate our kids on knowing and making good choices. But kids are going to make bad choices. They just do, that's what kids do. But it's our jobs as educators and adults and peer to peer knowledge of saying, 'I want to save this person's life' because they made a bad mistake and people make mistakes, but they shouldn't have to die from them," Deprey said.

Julia LeBlanc is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jleblanc@fox61.com Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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