Collier Co. Sheriff program aims to train teachers and businesses to administer Narcan
Fox 4 | By Kaitlin Knapp | September 7, 2023
COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — A crisis the CDC has called an epidemic is being tackled head-on by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Kevin Rambosk has launched a new program to potentially prevent fentanyl overdose deaths.
The program is called “Laced & Lethal,” with a goal of training businesses and school staff on how to give someone a dose of Narcan if they are exposed to or ingest fentanyl.
“This emerging trend is becoming more and more an issue,” said Rambosk. “Fake pills, we’re seeing that throughout the last year.”
The Drug Enforcement Agency said in 2022, six out of 10 fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills contained a potentially lethal dose. It’s a concern Rambosk said his office has been looking at closely for the past six to eight months.
“What we don’t want to see is a continued overdosing problem with people dying unnecessarily in Collier County,” he explained. “We are not immune to what comes into our community from outside.”
Collier County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Leslie Ricciardelli is already getting ahead of the game.
“Every school clinic received four units of Narcan this week,” she said. “They will get more for the additional AEDs outside of the clinic.”
Each staff member, including teachers, bus drivers and after school counselors will learn how to give Narcan to someone.
Parents will get handouts and have the chance to watch PSAs. Students will also watch age-appropriate videos about the dangers of fentanyl.
“The more they know, the less likely something bad will happen,” Ricciardelli said.
An overdose has not happened at a school, she said, but wants to be prepared just in case.
“You can’t just be blind to the fact that this could happen,” Ricciardelli said.
Rambosk is also getting the Greater Naples Chamber involved. The Sheriff wants to train employees at business to limit potential exposures and teach them how to give Narcan.
Julie Schmelzle, Chair of the chamber, said to get the word out to its 1,200 members, it’s going to start with a conversation.
“We start with what’s being embraced by CCPS as well as the sheriff’s department,” she said. “For our community it’s important that, as we always have done, we come together for the betterment and the safety and protection for our community.”
The message of a potentially deadly dose is also circulating in the sheriff’s own department. In April 2023, a deputy had to get a dose of Narcan after being exposed at a domestic violence call.
The deputy was helping the victim get things out of the house when they were exposed.
“We were not going to a drug call,” Rambosk said. “In fact, we’re going to assistance calls without any indication of fentanyl being there.”
The sheriff’s office is now training how to use personal protective equipment (PPE), to limit exposure. They’ve also added in new policies to the department.
Rambosk said the estimated initial cost of the program is $300,000, with half coming from contributors. The Sheriff said the remainder will come from elsewhere, hoping the community will pitch in the rest of the initial price tag. However, none will come out of the sheriff’s office budget.
“What we’re really concerned about is what is coming in the next three to five years,” Rambosk said. “We need to start to stop it today.”