Riverhead High School File photo: Denise Civiletti

Two Riverhead High School students were found unconscious in the high school in the past week and were revived by the opioid overdose rescue drug Narcan, which was administered by a school nurse, according to a spokesperson for Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

RVAC responded to the high school on Friday, Feb. 4 and Thursday, Feb. 10 for calls reporting an unconscious person as a result of a possible overdose. Both students had been revived by Narcan prior to RVAC’s arrival. Both were transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center for follow-up, the spokesperson said.

On Feb. 4, the student admitted to vaping prior to losing consciousness. On Feb. 10, the student denied vaping.

Riverhead High School principal Sean O’Hara sent an email to parents of high school students last night warning them of a “potentially harmful, ingestible substance” circulating in the community and accessible to students.

O’Hara asked parents to talk to their children about “not accepting unknown items from other individuals.”

The email did not disclose that students had been found unconscious and revived by Narcan and did not mention vaping.

“While the information we have about this substance and how it is being accessed by individuals remains limited at this time, as partners in education, we felt it was important to bring this matter to your attention,” the high school principal wrote in the email, but did not provide further details about the substance or means of ingestion.

He said the district is “partnering with law enforcement to further investigate the matter.”

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller this morning confirmed that there were two “aided cases” at the school on those dates. “Both students collapsed and were transported to PBMC. We were called to each incident and are investigating same,” he said. He confirmed police were told the students were revived with Narcan prior to police arrival.

Riverhead School Superintendent Augustine Tornatore confirmed after the original publication of this article that both incidents involved vaping.

“In addition to our vape detectors, our team is vigilant in trying to stop this,” Tonrnatore said in an email. “Part of the issue is that students have increased anxiety and depression due to the lock down and pandemic. This has been a huge cause of concern for us.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with a comment from the school superintendent.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor and attorney. Her work has been recognized with numerous journalism awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She was also honored in 2020 with a NY State Senate Woman of Distinction Award for her trailblazing work in local online news. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.