TOMS RIVER, N.J. (WPVI) -- Ocean County, New Jersey is taking a new step to treat drug overdoses in schools.
It's the first county in the state to give Narcan to high school nurses, the drug that can reverse a heroin or opioid overdose.
"The heroin epidemic is only gonna get worse and I think it's important that we are armed and ready just in case," said Dawn Kulisi of Toms River High School East.
The training is being sponsored by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, and the Adapt Pharma Company is donating the Narcan.
Prosecutor Joseph Coronato says there's been at least one overdose at a county high school - though he won't say where - but he thinks having Narcan on hand will help fight the exploding heroin and opioid problem he calls the "synthetic storm."
"Last year we had 118 overdose deaths here in Ocean County and as of today's date - it's the first of December - we have 180. So it looks like we have a substantial increase," Coronato said.
It's made worse by the heroin laced with Fentanyl, a deadly narcotic.
"There's definitely a heroin and opiate prescription pill problem in schools," said drug counselor Jeff Jaegel of New Egypt High School.
Jaegel says many teens start with marijuana and move to pills found in their own homes.
"And once you go to prescription pills, heroin is obviously the cheaper option," he said.
The thought is school nurses are on the front line, and they are dealing with students who are experimenting with heroin and pills and have to be prepared.
"We work with the kids every day, we hear their stories, we know their stories," said Kelly Loisesu, R.N.
"It seems very easy to use, I think. The hardest part is going to be when they come out of it, if they are combative," said Sarah Hvidding, R.N.
Drug recovery specialist John Brogan, a former heroin addict, says he knows firsthand that having Narcan available can make the difference between life and death.
"I was Narcanned four times in active addiction. It absolutely is a lifesaver," he said.
There is a bill in the state legislature that would require all schools to be equipped with Narcan throughout New Jersey.
School nurses provided with overdose-reversing drug in Ocean Co.
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