Davidson County nonprofit pushes for opioid overdose-reversing drug in all NC schools

Narcan is becoming more readily available in public places, including this free vending machine in the Forsyth County Detention Center. PAUL GARBER/WFDD

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools officials are considering placing the opioid overdose-reversing drug Naloxone, also known as Narcan, in all of its schools. That’s something Barbara Walsh of Davidson County would like to see happen statewide. She lost her daughter, Sophia, to an accidental overdose. 

Wake Forest University student Marc Isabella spoke to Walsh about her advocacy through the nonprofit she started, Fentanyl Victims Network of North Carolina. 

Interview highlightsOn the goals of her nonprofit: 

“I did not know how to spell fentanyl when my daughter died, but it appears to me that the focus is on the numbers. And the numbers just really don’t mean much until you put faces to them. That’s what the goal is. I am finding families every day who have lost someone to fentanyl. They typically feel very alone, thinking their child was the only one who has died this way. But that’s not true.”

On her priorities for addressing the opioid crisis:

“In North Carolina, I would like to see Naloxone in all 100 counties. That’s the easiest way to save a life. We think all the schools should have it just in case a student does something… If they have Naloxone on school premises and somebody goes down and has a fentanyl emergency in the bathroom, they can save her life. And if they don’t have a fentanyl emergency, and they still administer Naloxone, nothing happens. They’re safe.”

On the biggest obstacle to getting Naloxone in schools:

“I would say that there are many preconceived notions. Nobody spends any time to figure out who that person is, and how fentanyl got into their body… Education about the danger of fentanyl is critical.”

On whether there’s a difference in attitudes on Naloxone between rural and urban counties:

“That’s a great question. Mecklenburg County just approved Naloxone in its schools in January. Rural Harnett County just approved it in December, to have it in all schools and on the school buses. You have some counties in eastern North Carolina, which are all rural, they have school policies to have it in the district. Every school in the district has Naloxone. So it’s kind of a crapshoot.”

Read the article and listen to the interview on the WFDD website.

New opioid overdose plan approved unanimously for Wake County Public School System

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) — There’s a push to get a life-saving medication in every Wake County school.

Wake County Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a new Naloxone policy.

Last month, Wake County school board members approved a new policy that requires all county schools to keep a supply of Naloxone – also known by its brand name Narcan – and train faculty members on how to use it.

Before the vote, school resource officers already carried Narcan, but not every Wake County school has an SRO. The newly approved plan requires at least three staff members at each school to be trained and able to administer the drug in case of an emergency. However, it fell short of requiring Naloxone to be kept on campus.

According to state health data, Naloxone was used for suspected overdoses 21 times on schools’ ground statewide in 2023.

“If we have a tool that can save a life, particularly one of our student’s lives,” Chris Heagarty, Wake County School board chair, said, “we want to do everything we can to take those steps.”

Under the new plan, each school principal will designate three or more people on their staff as a part of a medical care program. Those designated people will receive initial training and annual training on how to properly store naloxone, as well as how to administer it.

Each school principal will also need to come up with an emergency action plan for the use of naloxone that complies with all state laws.

“There’s definitely been people at my school that do drugs and it would be best if we had something like that on campus. God forbid something happens,” Cary High School student Emily Ranft said.

“I personally think it should be available in every school. Just because you never know. Better safe than sorry,” Dr. Collin Welteroth said.

This policy is personal for some Wake County mothers.

Barb Walsh, back in December, urged the school board to consider requiring Naloxone be put in schools countywide.

Walsh’s daughter Sophia, died nearly three years ago from fentanyl poisoning. She was drinking from a water bottle that had the dangerous opioid mixed into it.

She made it her mission to not only support families like hers but also promote the life-saving medicine Naloxone.

“It doesn’t take an army. It doesn’t take a lobbyist,” Walsh said to ABC11 in April. “It takes a mom who’s lost a child to stand in front of the school board to make this happen. And that’s significant.”

Tuesday’s Wake County school board meeting starts at 1 p.m.

Wake County Schools to consider implementing naloxone emergency use plan

The Wake County School Board is set to consider a proposal that would designate specific people on school campuses to be trained in administering naloxone in the event of an overdose emergency. However, it does not guarantee the availability of naloxone in every school.

Barb Walsh has dedicated her days to fighting the opioid epidemic. She has been steadfast in her pursuit for justice and bringing awareness to fentanyl fatalities and their families.

Walsh said her daughter Sophia died after drinking a water bottle with fentanyl in it. Now, she’s working to get naloxone in every school in the state.

“She could’ve been saved by naloxone, but she wasn’t,” Walsh told WRAL News. “She died instantly.”

Naloxone reverses the effects of opiates. On Tuesday, the Wake County School Board will consider implementing a naloxone emergency use plan.

Right now, school resource officers carry naloxone, but not every Wake County school has one.

“If [SROs] did receive that call to respond, and they were on campus, they will be able to arrive within minutes to be able to administer that Narcan, if needed,” said Sgt. Jeremy Pittman, with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.

Read more: Wake County Schools to consider implementing naloxone emergency use plan

In the proposal, it says principals would designate specific people on campus who would get training to administer it in the event of an emergency.

“Naloxone devices will be stored in secure but unlocked and easily accessible locations. Each school principal shall designate one or more school personnel, as part of the medical care program under G.S. 115C-375.1, to receive initial training and annual retraining from a school nurse or qualified representative of the local health department regarding the storage and emergency use of naloxone devices. The training shall include basic instruction and information on how to administer naloxone. Only such trained personnel are authorized to administer naloxone to persons believed to be having an overdose reaction, “ it reads.

Additionally, the principal would collaborate with “appropriate school personnel” to create an emergency action plan, including a school-wide employee training to recognize the symptoms of an opioid overdose.

However, each school would not be required to have it.

“This policy also does not guarantee availability of naloxone devices at school, and students and parents/guardians should consult with their own physician(s) regarding such medication(s). Nothing in this policy should be construed to require the presence or use of naloxone on school property or at school sponsored events, unless otherwise required by law. The Board cannot and does not guarantee that naloxone or a person trained in its use will be available at any particular school site or school-sponsored event,” the proposal reads.

That’s because the drug comes with a price tag, according to a district spokesperson. The spokesperson said the district is still working to identify funding to get the drug in every school. The current budget does not reflect funding for naloxone in each school. However, it could change.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, “Opioid overdose on school grounds increased this school year, with 21 incidents of naloxone use.”

Of the 115 school districts in the state, 22 have a district-wide program supported with local policy and procedure, according to NCDHHS.

“Naloxone in schools is a safety policy,” Walsh said. “We have AEDs in schools; we have EpiPens in schools; we have fire extinguishers in schools. Naloxone is not different.”

Walsh said people also need to change their attitudes.

“Everybody gets judged. That judgment is the person, the victim, is somehow at fault, that they’re less than,” she said. “It is a medical emergency. That person’s life could be saved.”

Additionally, Walsh said implementing naloxone in each school will bring wider awareness to the issue in general.

“You’re also educating about the symptoms of fentanyl,” she said. “They’ll have more tools in their toolbox.”

The board has been supportive of the proposal in previous meetings. A final vote will be required after Tuesday’s meeting.

Read the article and watch the video on the WRAL TV5 News website.

Breaking the silence: Nonprofits gather to raise awareness about fentanyl poisoning

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Non-profits from across the state gathered at Legion Stadium on Sunday to spread awareness about fentanyl poisoning.  

Attendees also had the chance to receive free Narcan—known generically as naloxone—which is a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of fentanyl poisoning. 

Leslie and Duane Locklear lost two of their sons, Matt and Ryan Locklear to fentanyl poisoning in 2022. The couple started the Fight 4 Me Foundation in their sons’ memory. They said one of the biggest challenges with fentanyl education is the negative stigma.  

“A great number of people, for whatever reason, don’t want to talk about it. They just want to stigmatize it and push it to the side, and knowledge is power so we just took that calling upon ourselves to get out there and try to make people aware of how bad that problem really is,” Duane said. 

Barb Walsh of Fentanyl Victims Network of North Carolina lost her 24-year-old daughter Sophia after she drank from a water bottle laced with the synthetic drug. 

“She grabbed a water bottle out of the refrigerator, the water bottle contained eight nanograms of diluted Fentanyl. She died instantly. No Naloxone in the house. She was left for ten hours before 911 was called,” she said. 

Non-profits from across the state gathered at Legion Stadium on Sunday to spread awareness about fentanyl poisoning.  (Photo: Nate Mauldin/WWAY)
Read more: Breaking the silence: Nonprofits gather to raise awareness about fentanyl poisoning

At the event, rapper 22Jax and Ladydice shot a music video for their song “For Y’all,” which aims to break the stigma surrounding fentanyl education. 

“It’s bigger than everything that’s going on. It became very personal for me when I heard about the 19-month-old that did not wake up from her nap or his nap at the Airbnb, that’s insane. I have a 19-month-old at the house, so it really struck home,” 22Jax explained. 

Forgotten Victims of North Carolina Founder Patricia Drewes lost her daughter Heaven to fentanyl poisoning in 2018, leaving behind her son, Cameron. Drewes’ hope is that more parents like her will educate their children.  

“For God’s sake, educate your children. I had no idea. I wish I had known then what I know now. We have to educate our parents, we have to educate our children.”   

According to the North Carolina Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, since 2016, more than 15,000 North Carolinians have died from fentanyl poisoning.  

If you would like to know how obtain Narcan in case of a life-threatening emergency, New Hanover County Health and Human Services has a list of where to get Narcan locally for free, with insurance. 

Read the original article on the WWAY TV3 News website.

Local rapper raising awareness about fentanyl overdose deaths

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Promoter Scott Maitland and rapper “22JAX” are taking action through music and community organizations to raise awareness about fentanyl overdose deaths.

This Sunday, May 19, they are organizing a music video shoot and fundraiser at Legion Stadium from noon to 4 p.m. There will be games and activities for families, food trucks and Foz of Z107.5 FM broadcasting live on-site.

40 percent of the revenue made by the song will be donated to fentanyl awareness nonprofits like Fight4Me and FentVic.

Maitland and 22 Jax visited the WECT studio for an interview on Thursday, and you can watch that full interview at the top of this story.

Read the article and watch the video on the WECT6 website.

Families push NC leaders for naloxone in all schools

Families of people who have died due to fentanyl use urged North Carolina lawmakers on Wednesday to do more to prevent other people from feeling their pain.

Fentanyl deaths are on the rise in North Carolina, state data shows:

  • 2,838 people died from fentanyl from January 2023 – October 2023
  • 2,797 people died from fentanyl from January 2022 – October 2023

October 2023 represented the most recent data the North Carolina Department of Health and Human and Human Services could provide.

Theresa Mathewson, whose son Joshua died in August 2022 at the age of 27 from fentanyl poisoning, was among the families visiting North Carolina lawmakers on Wednesday.

The group is advocating for North Carolina lawmakers to mandate having a box of naloxone, a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose, in every school in the state. Some people who attended Wednesday’s event said they were confident state leaders will utilize $350,000 of the $350 million in opioid settlement funds that North Carolina received to make it a reality.

Theresa Mathewson said she found her son unresponsive in his bedroom.

“He was getting ready to complete some tasks for a new job,” she said of her late son.

Theresa Mathewson said he son took half of a pill with roughly 14 times the lethal dose of fentanyl in it.

“[It was] enough to kill him and all his closest friends.

“It should be an eye-opener,” said Chelsea Mathewson, who is the sister of Joshua Mathewson.

The Mathewsons have started several grassroots organizations in Harnett County to spread awareness of the dangers of opioid use.

In 2022, more than 4,300 people in North Carolina died from all opioid exposure.

“Part of likes these [events] because I don’t feel alone, but I hate them,” Chelsea Mathewson said. “I absolutely hate them.

“I hate that there’s another mother and father going through it.”

Danielle Erving, whose son died from fentanyl poisoning, also attended Wednesday’s event.

“Nobody deserves this heartbreak because it can happen to anybody,” Erving said.

Jazmine Brown, whose brother died from fentanyl poisoning, echoed Erving’s sentiments.

“Nobody is safe from this, as sad as it is,” Brown said. “That’s the most important thing for people to acknowledge.”

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NC activists, families call on lawmakers to get Narcan in more schools to combat fentanyl crisis

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Families of those impacted by fentanyl in North Carolina joined together at the General Assembly Wednesday to spread awareness on the dangers of the drug.

Duane and Leslie Locklear were just two of the many parents in attendance. They lost both of their sons, Matthew and Ryan, to fentanyl.

“We lost Matthew in February of 2022 right here in Raleigh and nine months later we lost Ryan in Pembroke. Both, again, due to fentanyl poisoning,” said Duane.

Now they’re on a mission to make sure no other parent has to go what they’ve gone through.

Fayetteville mom, Nanielle Ervin, lost her son to the drug as well.

“I didn’t know what fentanyl was,” said Ervin. “Just to find out that your loved one is gone it’s devastating.”

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says in 2021 more than 77% of overdose deaths in the state likely involved fentanyl.

The group said to combat the crisis they want to see more Naloxone, a drug commonly known as Narcan, in schools.

Watch the video and read the article on the CBS17 website.

Families of victims of fentanyl overdoses rally for education, Naloxone in schools

Families who have lost loved ones to fentanyl are meeting with state lawmakers Wednesday morning to talk about the dangers of the drug, what can be done to save lives – and ask lawmakers to do something about this.

Families say there’s a need for more support and public education.

Families of people who have lost somebody to fentanyl will have their photos on display here at the legislative building, so lawmakers can see the faces of people who have died in their community.

When you look at the data, more than 17,000 North Carolinians have died of fentanyl overdoses since 2013.

Several non-profits and advocates are pushing for Naloxone to be in every school in the state. It’s a lifesaving medication that can be administered through nasal spray if an opioid or fentanyl emergency occurs in a classroom.

They’re calling on the general assembly to appropriate $350,000 of an opioid settlement fund that the state controls. They also want lawmakers to provide two boxes or four doses of Naloxone to all public schools.

Barb Walsh is the executive director for Fentanyl Victims Network and is leading the charge.

“I would like to put faces instead of numbers in people’s minds because when they look at somebody who is young and vibrant and now dead, they’re like ‘oh, that could be me, my son, my daughter,'” Walsh said.

Wednesday’s press conference begins at 10 a.m. followed by a meeting with lawmakers.

Read the full article and watch the video clip on the WRAL TV5 website.

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