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November 07, 2023

Reps. Schiff, Ruiz Introduce Lifesaving Bill to Help Schools Prevent Opioid Overdoses

Washington, D.C.— Today, Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-Calif.) introduced the Helping Educators Respond to Overdoses (HERO) Act, legislation that would save lives by expanding access to opioid overdose reversal drugs, such as Narcan, in schools, providing critical training for staff, and implementing educational resources for students and communities to combat the opioid and fentanyl epidemic.

According to the CDC, 106,699 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2021. Of these deaths, it is estimated that 75% involved at least one opioid, with 66.5% involving synthetic opioids— primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl or fentanyl analogs. Expanding access to Naloxone and these additional resources would help to dramatically reduce the amount of student deaths caused by overdose each year.

“As a parent, nothing is more horrifying than the fear of losing a child. Tragically, overdoses from fentanyl have been claiming the lives of innocent students in California schools and across the nation. Our children deserve a secure learning environment free from the threat of opioid overdoses. My bill will expand access to naloxone and provide essential training for school staff so we can confront the fentanyl crisis head-on,” said Rep. Schiff, Author of the HERO Act.

“As an emergency physician, I have cared for many patients overdosing on opioids and comforted family members of patients who were not able to receive lifesaving Narcan in time. The opioid crisis is worsening in our country and impacting children and teens,” said Dr. Ruiz. “Our children are at risk of drug overdoses and our schools are not properly equipped to handle these situations. That is why Rep. Schiff and I are introducing the Helping Educators Respond to Overdoses (HERO) Act, which will provide critical training for schools, Narcan, essential supplies, and educational resources to combat the opioid epidemic. We must continue to fight for families across the country who have been affected by this crisis and prevent the further loss of children’s lives.”

“Our nation faces an unprecedented threat to our youth in synthetic opioid overdose risk, and we support efforts to address this crisis. Los Angeles Unified became one of the first school districts in the nation to provide naloxone on all of our school campuses. This summer, the state of California provided funding for naloxone for all school districts in the state. These actions have unquestionably saved lives. We support the Helping Educators Respond to Overdoses (HERO) Act, introduced by U.S. Representative Schiff,” said Alberto M. Carvalho, Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District. 

“The California Medical Association is proud to support the HERO Act, introduced by Representatives Adam Schiff and Raul Ruiz to build on California’s ‘Melanie’s Law’ to prevent fentanyl overdoses. Fentanyl overdoses among our youth are on the rise and physicians are eager to partner with schools and communities to save the lives of our teens and stop this epidemic.” said Donaldo Hernandez, MD, President of the California Medical Association (CMA).

“As opioid-related emergencies continue to tear apart families and communities, ensuring access to lifesaving opioid overdose reversal drugs in schools and improving education about overdose treatment are commonsense efforts that will help save young lives,” said Aisha T. Terry, MD, MPH, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “This legislation will equip educators and students with overdose reversal drugs like naloxone, provide education to improve emotional health and prevent substance use disorder among students, and ensure we have the necessary data to understand the effectiveness of our ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. This multi-step approach will put critical resources where they need to be to prevent avoidable tragedies and the needless loss of young lives. ACEP extends its deep appreciation to Reps. Schiff and Ruiz for their leadership in championing this vital legislation.”

The HERO Act is co-sponsored by Representatives Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), David Trone (D-Md.), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.).

The HERO Act is endorsed by American College of Emergency Physicians, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), California Medical Association, Cedars-Sinai, Education Law Center, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), National Association of School Nurses, National Education Association (NEA).

Click HERE to read the bill text.