The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted this week to allocate $135,000 in State funds towards distributing Narcan kits to local high schools. The medication is an emergency treatment that can quickly help reverse fentanyl or other opioid overdoses.
The vote comes after a report was issued by the County Behavioral Health Services Department (BHSD) in June encouraging the County to ramp up the purchasing and distribution of Narcan as a part of a youth harm reduction plan.
County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who serves as Chair of the County’s Health and Hospital Committee expressed concern that schools have been hesitant to make Narcan kits available on campuses.
“When you say, ‘wouldn’t you like to have this resource available?’ The reaction is, ‘well we don’t have a problem,” he said. “And maybe some places don’t, but frankly I’m inclined to think that the problem is pretty pervasive.”
According to the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office, between 2018 and 2021, the overall number of deaths caused by opioids in Santa Clara County increased 2.5 times – from 62 to 163.
The State funds will help purchase 28 Narcan kits for each high school in Santa Cara County. The kits will be distributed this fall along with training for staff. The Behavioral Health Department is also planning to increase the availability of Narcan kits alongside fentanyl test strips at bars and restaurants.
Over the past five years, the Behavioral Health Department and its community partners distributed more than 10,000 Narcan kits to law enforcement agencies, first responders, organizations, schools, and higher education institutions.
Santa Clara County also expects several million dollars from opioid lawsuits to provide additional funding for Narcan distribution and outreach.