GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP — A new program that will install secure Naloxboxes in every school across Camden County was unveiled on Thursday by the Board of County Commissioners and state and local officials.

The program is in response to the ongoing opioid public health crisis that has taken more than 100,000 lives last year throughout the nation, including more than 300 in Camden County. A 12-year-old student in the county was the victim of a fatal fentanyl overdose earlier this year.

Schools will each be provided with four naloxone kits for both public and parochial schools. The medication will be stored in what is called a Naloxbox, a secure metal box that holds four doses of naloxone and looks like an Automatic Emergency Defibrator box.

Each school will be responsible for monitoring usage, expiration, and elimination.

“We have been working to address the opioid epidemic for the better part of a decade providing tools and resources for our community. This is now the next step in that journey to combat the evolving fentanyl issue that is appearing in a variety of recreational narcotics,” said Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli Jr.

There will also be scheduled overdose response training which will be scheduled throughout the month of November for faculty and staff to ensure that administration of the life-saving medication is not solely put on the school nurse.

“The implementation of Naloxbox emergency kits in schools will save lives by giving school personnel the ability to deliver life-saving naloxone to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose on school property,” said Camden County Prosecutor Grace MacAulay.

Equipping all schools in the county with Naloxbox puts lifesaving drugs within reach for quick administration, she added.

The cost of this new initiative is more than $30,000 being allocated through the Office of Mental Health and Addiction. Naloxone is being distributed at no cost through a partnership with the state Department of Health, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, and local police departments.

“To lose a child to overdose is an unimaginable tragedy. This program will ensure that life-saving medicine is available in all Camden County schools, and if it saves even one life it will have been worth it,” said Congressman Donald Norcross.

The goal is to install more than 250 boxes throughout the more than 150 schools by October 31.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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