November 14, 2023
California congressional representatives Adam Schiff and Raul Ruiz, M.D., recently introduced the Helping Educators Respond to Overdoses Act (HERO) Act, legislation that would save lives by expanding access to opioid overdose reversal drugs, such as Narcan (naloxone), in schools, providing critical training for staff, and implementing educational resources for students and communities to combat the opioid and fentanyl epidemic.
According to the CDC, 106,699 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2021. Of these deaths, it is estimated that 75% involved at least one opioid, with 66.5% involving synthetic opioids— primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl or fentanyl analogs. Expanding access to opioid overdose reversal drugs and these additional resources would help to dramatically reduce the amount of student deaths caused by overdose each year.
“As an emergency physician, I have cared for many patients overdosing on opioids and comforted family members of patients who were not able to receive lifesaving Narcan in time. The opioid crisis is worsening in our country and impacting children and teens,” said Dr. Ruiz. “Our children are at risk of drug overdoses and our schools are not properly equipped to handle these situations. That is why Rep. Schiff and I are introducing the Helping Educators Respond to Overdoses Act, which will provide critical training for schools, Narcan, essential supplies, and educational resources to combat the opioid epidemic. We must continue to fight for families across the country who have been affected by this crisis and prevent the further loss of children’s lives.”
“The California Medical Association (CMA) is proud to support the HERO Act, which builds on California’s ‘Melanie’s Law’ to prevent fentanyl overdoses,” said CMA President Donaldo Hernandez, M.D. “Fentanyl overdoses among our youth are on the rise and physicians are eager to partner with schools and communities to save the lives of our teens and stop this epidemic.”
The HERO Act is co-sponsored by Representatives Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), David Trone (D-Md.), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), and endorsed by the California Medical Association, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Federation of Teachers, Cedars-Sinai, Education Law Center, Los Angeles Unified School District, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of School Nurses, National Education Association.
Click HERE to read the bill text.