State lawmaker pushes for Narcan, overdose training at area high schools

TACOMA, Wash. -- A bill currently under review in the state Senate could give high schools and colleges access to Narcan -- as well as training on what to do during an overdose.

A big supporter of the idea is former math teacher and high school principal Ed Petersen.

"I personally would love to see this in every school, anywhere there is a gathering of students and a gathering of your or family or communities," Petersen said.

Petersen said his own son became addicted to drugs when he was 18-19 years old. His son's addictions inspired Petersen to become an advocate for awareness.

"You learn to hate the sight of missing aluminum foil. You learn to hate missing pens, missing straws, burn marks, lighters," he said.

Petersen recently shared his story before the state Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee in support of House Bill 1039.

If passed by the Senate, opioid overdose medication could become more readily available in school districts with over 2,000 students, only applying to grades 9-12 and higher education institutions.

State Rep. Gerry Pollet introduced the policy, which would be funded through the state budget. Schools would also receive grants to cover the cost of training.

"It needs to be available anywhere there's a gathering of students. I would love to see it in every building so that when we tell the population that if you are near a school and something happens, here's where it is," Pollet said.

Petersen says through his experience as an educator and a parent, he believes it's crucial other parents are aware.

"If you have a child, you are susceptible, and you could be the best parent in the world," Petersen said. "If we really want to do something, we need to make sure these tools are available."

Petersen says his son is now 27 years old and eight months sober.

Pollet said in addition to overdoses, he believes accessibility to Narcan could prevent suicides on college campuses. If it passes committee on Wednesday, the bill will head to the Senate floor for a vote.