In an effort to combat the heroin epidemic, public school systems around the state are stocking Naloxone in nurse's offices.
In Harford County, school officials noticed an increase in opioid overdoses and a decrease in the age of victims.
ABC2 News digs deeper into the heroin crisis gripping our region at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22.
"There has been really great support from the community," Nurse Coordinator Mary Nasuta said. "The community is aware of this problem. They know of the breadth and depth of this issue."
Within the last month, school health staff has been trained on how to identify an overdose and administer the life saving drug. The Harford County Health Department is also providing two doses of Naloxone to each of the county's middle and high schools.
Nasuta said nurses want to have resources available.
"They know they are the first person called to an emergency and they wanted that backup," she said.
So far, there has never been an overdose in one of Harford County's schools. In Anne Arundel County, a student's life was saved just days after that school system stocked Naloxone.
Baltimore County and Carroll County schools are also equipping nurses.
"We know that Naloxone is not going to cure the heroin epidemic," Nasuta said of Harford County's thinking on heroin, "We do know that it will give people enough time to get the help they need."
Ginny Popiolek, Harford County's Health and Physical Education Supervisor, said that the real progress will come from getting to students and their families before decisions to use heroin are made.
"We are actually both being proactive and preventative," Popiolek said. "We've always provided health education. Drug education is part of health education."
Harford County Public Schools are in the middle of a multi-year education plan to empower families to take on heroin addiction. The first year was about awareness. The second year is about action. Popiolek said parents shouldn't be afraid to search a room or cell phone if drug use is suspected.
"All of those risky behaviors are part of the pathway," Popiolek said. "And we need to be monitoring that."
The county and public school system are encouraging families to have a Night of Conversation with their children to start talking about avoiding potential problems. Topics for varying age groups can be found online.
Nalaxone training is also available for Harford County residents who may need to administer the drug. If interested, residents can contact the Harford County Health Department.