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Kearney School District adds more Narcan after its use saves a student's life

Posted at 8:07 PM, Aug 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-26 23:42:35-04

KEARNEY, Mo. — A welcome sign marks the entrance to Kearney, Mo., just 15 miles northeast of Kansas City.

The town is proud of its school district, with Kearney High School purple a year-round favorite color.

But there's another sign, right next to the welcome sign, with a darker message about a deadly drug.

That drug, Fentanyl, nearly killed a Kearney School District student during the 2020-21 school year.

But the district is using education and Narcan to blunt the drug's effects.

“We would have lost one of our students,” said Dr. Heather Guilkey, Director of Special Programs, Kearney School District. “The individual was in class and literally fell out, the teacher immediately knew something wasn’t right,” she said.

School nurse Melissa Stokes raced down the hallway armed with Narcan.

The product reversed the effects of the overdose and saved the student.

“You hear about these things you just don’t think they will happen in your school, but unfortunately it does,” Dr. Guilkey said.

Dr. Guilkey says the days of giving out a band-aid and a cough drop are long gone.

“I remember the day when schools didn’t even have school nurses,” she said. “It’s scary our kids are having to think about things that you would have never thought of before. Kids should just have to worry about their school day, who they are going to eat lunch with, what they are going to do when they get home.”

She says now school nurses juggle student medications, mental health, trauma, sickness, abuse, neglect, and ever-increasing drug abuse education.

“This school year we’ve equipped all of our buildings with Narcan,” Dr. Guilkey said. “Last year it was just the secondary schools but now the elementary buildings have them as well. We like to think our littles won’t get a hold of those things, and sometimes they do, even if it’s by accident so just making sure we are taking that proactive step to keep them safe too.”

She says Narcan is in multiple places in the high school.

School staff is trained on how to use the product.

The Clay County Sheriff's Department and the Kearney Police Department keep the district updated each month trends in drug use.

"You hope they don’t happen in your school, but preparation is everything," Dr. Guilkey said. “It’s just such an unpredictable drug and it just doesn’t take very much to really really cause a problem.”

And they’re urging other school districts to put Narcan in their buildings.

“I think we are ahead of the curve on this, and again it paid off,” she said. “If that sign makes one individual aware and saves one individual it’s all worth it.”

At least one lawmaker is pushing for Narcan to be in Kansas schools.

“I’m doing what we can to make sure we get Narcan into all of the school systems,” said U.S. Senator Roger Marshall.