Giving Compass' Take:

• Schools in Alabama are preparing teachers and nurses on how to handle opioid overdoses as the crisis worsens for students. 

• How can donors support district-wide initiatives that prepare teachers? 

• Read about the role of philanthropy in addressing the opioid crisis. 


The US state of Alabama is pioneering a project to train school staff - including teachers, coaches and administrators - how to treat pupils suffering from drug overdoses.

"Times have changed. Kids are getting things out of their parents' cabinets. They don't have to go out on the street, and they don't know what they are taking," says Jan Cibulski, school nursing supervisor in rural Shelby County - one of the regions signing up to the programme.

Until the start of the year, the state - like most others - recommended school nurses administer the treatment, but now they are widening the training to other teaching staff, as the opioid epidemic spirals nationwide.

The medication - naloxone - is being included in schools' standard emergency kits, alongside defibrillators and allergy-remedying Epipens.

In Columbiana, a small town in the heart of Alabama's Shelby County, the first training sessions are being held at a CTEC high school. Specialising in vocational skills, it has a well-equipped medical teaching room, including life-sized dummies that are usually used by pupils who want to go into nursing.

Using the device takes barely a minute, and then it typically takes around another minute or two for an unconscious victim to rouse. Alabama's department of education says the training has been designed to help teaching staff get over their fear factor associated with such an emergency. The injectors can't do any harm, they say.

Authorities say no child is known to have overdosed in Alabama's school system, but they fear it could be a matter of time. They say they want to be proactive, rather than wait for the first tragedy.

Read the full article about schools preparing for opioid overdoses by Vicky Baker at BBC