BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Libraries and schools will now be on the front lines of tackling Maryland’s opioid crisis.
As the number of drug deaths continue to skyrocket, libraries and schools are now being recruited to help with the growing battle.
Right now, first responders are carrying the opioid reversal drug Nalaxone, or Narcan. But now, a growing number of libraries across the state are training workers on how use the drug, and starting this school year, it’ll be required on every Maryland public school campus.
Inside a place where stories are read and told, Anne Arundel County public libraries are looking to turn the pages on a horror story gripping the state.
“This is just another way to serve our community in emergency situations,” said Christine Feldman, with Anne Arundel County Public Library.
Hoping for a new outcome in Maryland’s opioid war, library workers will soon carry the drug Nalaxone.
The drug can reverse the effects of prescription opioid and heroin overdoses.
Anne Arundel County now joins libraries in Harford and Carroll Counties by training workers on how to use the drug.
Right now, 60 workers are learning how to spot signs of an overdose, and how to administer the drug.
Feldman says the county moved forward with the move after a woman overdosed at their Annapolis branch last month.
“It’s the next logical step for us to get involved and try to address this opioid epidemic,” she said.
The opioid epidemic has reached crisis levels in Maryland. So much so, Governor Larry Hogan has declared a state of emergency.
In just the first three months of 2017, there were 550 overdose deaths in Maryland, compared to the 401 from the same time last year. That’s a 30 percent increase.
But libraries won’t be alone in carrying Nalaxone.
When the new school year gets underway, all Maryland public schools will be required to carry the drug as part of the Smart Choice Maryland Act.
The program will teach kids about the danger of drugs as early as third grade.
All Baltimore City schools have had the drug since 2015.
“It’s not just for students, it can also be for parents and caregivers,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “It can be for people visiting the schools, and also people working in the schools.”
The library is also offering free Naloxone training for the public in the fall.
The training, as well as the cost of the drug, will be paid by the county health department.