LAKEWOOD — The lifesaving heroin antidote Narcan is now in the hands of high school nurses and other staffers at every high school in Ocean County. It's aimed at reversing the potential deadly affects of heroin and other opiates that have put a stranglehold on much of the Garden State.

Each nurse and educator that attended a Wednesday morning training event at Georgian Court University received a complimentary Narcan kit that will be replenished at no cost if the drug must be administered on a student or someone else on school grounds.

"I made it a voluntary program, but I'm proud to say that every single district within Ocean County is here. Every single high school in Ocean County is here," Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato told reporters during the event.

According to Coronato, the local heroin epidemic is gradually affecting younger and younger residents, as young as 17 and 18.

Narcan, a nasal spray, has had to be used on a student in one of the district's high schools, Coronato said, but he would not specify which school.

Samantha Hvidding, a nurse at Toms River High School East who attended the event, said Narcan not only saves lives, but gives "people a little extra time to make better decisions and get into treatment."

"There can be a problem anywhere, and it's not just with the children," Hvidding told New Jersey 101.5. "It can be anyone that enters our building. It can be a parent, a visitor, a delivery person."

The Narcan kits, provided by Adapt Pharma, offer doses twice as potent as the original spray used years ago, Coronato said.

"If they use it, we'll replace it, free of charge," he said. "We don't want money to be the issue here."

As of Dec. 1, the county has seen 180 heroin overdose deaths in 2016. There were 118 overdose deaths in 2015. Narcan has reversed an overdose 445 times so far this year, compared to 272 all of last year.

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