The highly successful DuPage Narcan Program (DNP) released its first Annual Report during a press conference organized by the DuPage County Police Chiefs Association on Oct. 16, that included a $50,000 donation from Oak Brook businessman Ed Heil that will go toward sustaining the DNP in the future.
The DNP recognized those police departments in DuPage County communities that have already saved a life following a heroin overdose. Thirty-three communities are participating in DuPage County and approximately 1,700 officers have been trained to use Narcan on the street. Twenty-five lives have been saved using Narcan.
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin made the surprise announcement about the $50,000 donation from Mr. Heil. Cronin said: “We’re so grateful to the Heil family for their generosity and determination to equip our police officers with Narcan. This gift will have a lasting impact in our community for many years to come. It’s important we encourage others to learn the facts, join the fight and helps us save lives.” Mr. Heil lost his grandson to a heroin overdose.
The press conference featured remarks from Cronin, DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin and DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba.
Cronin noted: “This is a truly groundbreaking effort. The most important impact we can have in our county is saving lives. I think we all agree we considered this program a success when officers saved the first person’s life using Narcan. The benefit to families, mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings whose loved ones have been saved…is priceless.”
State’s Attorney Berlin said: “I am extremely proud to be part of this effort that has already saved the lives of 25 individuals.” He added: “It is my sincerest hope that those whose lives have been saved will look at their experience as a wake-up call and get the help they need to live a productive life free of drugs.”
Sheriff Zaruba said: “Education is the answer to prevention, so law enforcement teamed up with the experts, our school district superintendents, reformed users and the parents of those children who were not as lucky as those who are in remission from the addiction of heroin. We brought the message directly to the parents and to their children about the truth of this scourge.”
DNP Director George DeTella from the DuPage County Health Department read a letter of recognition that was presented to each police department that has recorded a save. DeTella said: “You have made the difference. By encouraging your staff to get trained in the administration of Narcan you have already saved a life. That is no small accomplishment.”
Also recognized at the press conference, held at the DuPage County Health Department, was the DNP contribution from Lillian Pickup, representing the Illinois Department on Alcohol and Substance Abuse. Karen Ayala, Executive Director at the Health Department, presented Pickup with a plaque. Ayala said: “Your exemplary career has been devoted to saving lives and your life-long commitment to public service and the well-being of every citizen is a high standard that is beyond comparison.”
Others participating in the press conference were DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen, Hanover Park police officer Tim NcNulty, who has saved a life using Narcan, and Wheaton Police Chief Mark Field.
For more information on DNP or the Annual Report, call the Health Department at (630) 682-7400 or e-mail DNP@dupagehealth.org.