District to distribute Narcan, provide staff training


FIGHTING FENTANYL — Liz Espino, administrative assistant for the director of the county’s behavioral health services, hands out Narcan kits at Palo Alto High School’s Performing Arts Center. Espino said that with the worsening opioid crisis, having opioid overdose provisions is crucial. “It’s very easy to get fentanyl,” Espino said. Photo: Asha Kulkarni

Narcan kits will be provided for every Palo Alto Unified School District site along with training for staff members to administer the medication, according to Health Services Coordinator Rosemarie Dowell. 

Narcan, also known as Naloxone, can save lives by reversing an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. PAUSD’s Narcan distribution program is in partnership with the Santa Clara County Opioid Overdose Prevention Project.

Staff training on administering Narcan started on March 10, Dowell said, and will continue after spring break. As of March 27, Narcan kits had been placed at almost every school site in PAUSD. 

According to Dowell, the goal of the distribution program is to reduce deaths from overdoses amid the opioid crisis.

“Over COVID, with increased use of drugs, and unfortunately more issues with fentanyl, schools really wanted to get more proactive,” Dowell said. “A lot of schools in our county and all over California have started talking about putting it in their own campuses.”

Liz Espino, administrative assistant for the director of the county’s behavioral health services, said that Narcan, which comes in the form of a nasal spray, is easy, and necessary, to learn how to use. 

“You never know what’s laced out there,” Espino said. “We’ve had a couple of stories … when some parents came out and talked about their children that have overdosed.”

Palo Alto High School music teacher Jeffrey Willner said that he is planning to sign up for the Narcan training program. 

“I hope this [administering Narcan] is something that everyone learns how to do,” Willner said.

The Parent, Teacher and Student Associations of both Paly and Henry M. Gunn High School also support the project. 

“This [Narcan] is a really important resource to understand how to use,” said Gunn PTSA member Audrey Gold.  “All of us need to believe that this [an overdose] … could happen to someone we know.”