Following seven teen overdoses in the past month, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced on Thursday that all its schools will carry medication to reverse opioid overdoses.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho called the county’s opioid epidemic an “urgent crisis,” the Associated Press reported.
Carvalho stated that all schools within the district from kindergarten through 12th grade would be provided with naloxone, also known under the brand name Narcan, within the next few weeks. The county public health department will provide the medication at no cost to the district.
The Los Angeles Unified School District is the second-largest district in the nation, with approximately 1,400 schools.
“Research shows that the availability of naloxone along with overdose education is effective at decreasing overdoses and death — and will save lives,” Carvalho said. “We will do everything in our power to ensure that not another student in our community is a victim to the growing opioid epidemic. Keeping students safe and healthy remains our highest priority.”
In addition to providing the schools with the medication, Carvalho announced that the district would launch an educational campaign about the dangers of fentanyl.
According to police, at least seven teenagers have overdosed in the past month from pills that were likely laced with fentanyl.
The most recent overdose occurred Saturday morning, when a 15-year-old boy was found unconscious by his mother at home. The boy is expected to recover.
Authorities are investigating whether the pills the boy took were the same ones that resulted in the fatal overdose of Melanie Ramos, who lost consciousness in the restroom at a Hollywood high school on September 13.
On Tuesday, L.A. Police Chief Michel Moore told the city Police Commission that the girl and her friend purchased a pill they believed was the prescription painkiller Percocet from a classmate. The two girls shared the pill in the high school bathroom and lost consciousness.
One teen woke up later that evening and attempted to wake Ramos, but she was unresponsive. Authorities reported that the pill, unknown to the girls, contained fentanyl.
Earlier that day and less than a half-mile away, paramedics responded to a call involving two teens involved in a possible overdose. The teens are believed to be students from the same high school.
Last week, police arrested two boys, ages 15 and 16, for selling drugs, including the ones responsible for Ramos’ death.
Los Angeles police are determined to find the supplier of the pills. Police Chief Moore described the two teenage boys as “simply pawns that are being used by adults and by drug trade organizations.”