Meade County students learn real-life lesson through overdose simulation

Baptist Health Hardin. October 26, 2023

Elizabethtown, KY (Oct. 24, 2023) – Students at Meade County High School participated in a real-world lesson today – one about an issue becoming increasingly common in communities nationwide – drug overdose.

Baptist Health Hardin conducted an overdose simulation at the school. The overdose simulation, which followed a template similar to the drunk driving fatality simulations that have become popular learning tools, focused on a student who has accidentally overdosed on Fentanyl.

The simulation is designed to educate students, help them understand the consequences of their decisions, and engage in critical thinking.

“It is no longer enough to tell students to say no to drugs,” said Erin Priddy, Baptist Health Hardin community outreach manager. “Our goal today is to reach them through experiential learning, and to engage them in the conversation about drug use and its potential consequences. Interactive participation has been shown to be a powerful learning tool for high school students. We appreciate the support of our community partners on this project and are hopeful that it will have positive impacts on the students who participate.”

"Today's overdose simulation served as a poignant reminder that many of the challenges our students face extend beyond the classroom,” said Meade County High School principal Garrett Frank. “We are committed to nurturing the holistic development of our students, ensuring they are equipped to make wise decisions that will positively shape their future. Together with our community partners, we continue to strive to empower our students to lead healthier, safer lives."

Brain development during the teenage years plays a significant role in shaping behavior. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to nicotine, alcohol, and drugs, and are also more vulnerable to addiction. At Baptist Health Hardin, from December 2022 to May 2023, 20% of hospital overdose visits were by people aged 18 and under. Of those patients, 42% of the overdoses were accidental.

The simulation included participation by student and adult volunteers who played the role of family and friends of a student who has accidentally overdosed. The news of the student’s overdose, as well as progress reports on their medical condition, were all shared by hospital physicians via pre-recorded messages.

Following the simulation, an interactive panel discussion was held. Panelists included representatives from Baptist Health Hardin, Meade County Schools, Meade County Sheriff’s Department, Meade County EMS, Meade County Coroner, and Lincoln Trail District Health Department.

The simulation concluded with the real-life, recorded testimony of Angelina Bellis, upon whose brother’s accidental overdose the simulation was based.

“Baptist Health Hardin is committed to the health and safety of our youth,” stated Baptist Health Hardin President Robert Ramey. “Mental health and substance abuse were recently identified as two of the top health issues facing our region, according to our 2022-2024 Community Health Needs Assessment. We are grateful for the collaboration of our community partners and to Meade County Schools for working with us on this program. The one hour these students participate in this program could be key to changing behavior and potentially save lives.”

The Meade County Simulation is one of four the hospital will be conducting over the coming weeks. All simulations will be conducted in collaboration with community partners and law enforcement in the schools’ respective communities.