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School staff, community members receive Narcan training at first of two sessions

Riverhead Central School District partnered with Community Action for Social Justice and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office to offer Narcan training to community members last Wednesday at Riverhead High School.

Around 30 community members, including district faculty and staff, attended the training. A second training session will be held at 6 p.m. March 10 at the high school auditorium.

The training came nearly a month after three students were transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center to be treated for suspected overdoses in the first two weeks of February.

Two of those three students were administered Narcan, the lifesaving opioid overdose antidote, by a school nurse. Riverhead Town police determined that none of the three cases involved fentanyl, illicit narcotics or alcohol. One student ate a THC chocolate candy bar and in another case a student reportedly used a vape pen. The student who at the THC chocolate candy did not require Narcan. The second student who received Narcan told police he had been feeling ill for weeks and said he did not use illegal narcotics.

Terrence Culhane, director of security for the district, said they were “flooded with offers of help,” after the incidents. He said he had already been working on putting together a training event when the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps reported the episodes.

“We’re trying to be a little — of course a little reactive — but we’re trying to be proactive, and trying to get the community involved to raise their awareness on drugs, alcohol and to give some Narcan training,” Mr. Culhane said to the audience.

Deputy Sheriff Investigator William Weick gave an informative presentation on opioids, which included everything from the history of where opioids came from to tips on what signs educators and parents should look out for when someone is using drugs.

“The intent of this is to give parents, to give teachers, to give faculty, some insight,” Mr. Weick said. “Some signs and symptoms, some environmental signs and symptoms, some physical signs and symptoms … just to kind of give you the information,” he said. 

Tina Wolf, executive director of CASJ, also had a presentation and then conducted  training with the Narcan kits.

“The idea here is that people do use drugs and it’s great if we can intercept and interdict that before it gets to be problematic, before there’s an overdose,” Ms. Wolf said.

After each presentation community members were able to ask questions.

“I’m very happy that the community came out,” Ms. Wolf said. “We create enough opportunity for the people who want to be here and a safe place that people don’t feel that they’re going to be judged or anything … this is open to everybody, and it could affect anybody.”