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Parents of UWM students who overdosed on campus applaud installation of Narcan kits

The nasal medication can reverse an opioid overdose in real-time.
UWM Narcan kit in Sandburg Hall .jpeg
Posted at 5:33 PM, Aug 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-22 19:31:27-04

MILWAUKEE — UW-Milwaukee is taking action ahead of the new school year to try to prevent opioid overdoses on its campuses in southeastern Wisconsin. UW-Milwaukee says it just installed Narcan kits in every residence hall and library on campus.

The parents of two UW-Milwaukee freshmen who died on campus last year say it wouldn’t have happened without their advocacy.

Logan Rachwal and Cade Reddington.png

When students move into dorms like Sandburg Hall next week, an important tool will be found in high-traffic areas in an effort to save students’ lives.

"All we have to do is just turn the latch,” said UWM Police Chief Davids Salazar. "There's two nasal applicators inside of it."

UWM Narcan Kits.jpeg

Erin Rachwal made it her mission over the past several months to get UW-Milwaukee to install Narcan kits on campus. The nasal medication can reverse an opioid overdose in real-time.

"The last thing we ever want is another child to be lost or any family to be going through anything like this and so what better place to start than at the campus our children died at,” she said.

Rachwal’s son, Logan, died from fentanyl poisoning in the spring of 2021. Another freshman named Cade Reddington sadly overdosed and died in the same dorm that fall. Rachwal says both students thought they were buying fake Percocet pills from a drug dealer, but investigations found they were actually counterfeit pills laced with a deadly dose of fentanyl.

Both of their mothers instantly connected through similar tragedies that turned into advocacy. Cade’s mother Michelle Kullman admits it didn’t come easy.

"Nothing was done after Logan passed to make incoming freshmen aware of the risks of fentanyl-laced pills in the Milwaukee area was when we just decided we need to do something about this,” Kullman said. “Because the welcome at the time was not great from UW-Milwaukee and not as responsive as we wanted it to be, we thought well let's just go right to the top."

Kullman and Rachwal went right to the UW-System president to push for Narcan to be available on every UW campus statewide.

Flash forward to today and two universities, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Milwaukee, have kits installed. The UW-System says nine more universities are set to follow this fall.

UW System campuses to install Narcan kits.png

"My hope is this is the beginning of Wisconsin really starting to wake up and understand this is everywhere,” Rachwal said. “This drug does not discriminate. This is everywhere. This is in lake country, this is in Milwaukee, it's in Washington County, it's in Kenosha, it's all over.”

Both mothers say the proactive steps taken by UW-Milwaukee leave them encouraged and relieved, even if it just saves one family from their pain.

UW-Milwaukee says it’s requiring all new students to take a 90-minute online alcohol and drug education course this fall. Anyone who wants to learn how to administer Narcan will be trained by the UW-Milwaukee Police Department. Chief Salazar urges anyone who needs to use it to call 911 immediately so first responders can assist with life-saving efforts as soon as possible.

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