Local Coalitions Working With State Senators to Save Lives

The HOPE (Healthy Options for Prevention and Education) Project Coalition of Raritan Valley Community College(RVCC), the RVCC BACCHUS Club and the Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon and Somerset hosted "Saving Lives Through the NJ Good Samaritan Bill." This event was held on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 from 6:00 - 8:00 pm in the RVCC Conference Center.

"The Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act is intended to save lives in the State of New Jersey by providing timely medical attention to the victims of drug overdoses. Deaths from drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in New Jersey, but many of these deaths could be prevented if medical assistance were sought immediately." (S851/A578).

The evening began with the showing of "In A Split Second," a documentary created last year by the HOPE Project and the Safe Communities Coalition. Speaking to individuals whose lives were drastically changed due to drugs or alcohol, the documentary shows how alcohol or drugs can change a life "in a split second" and how it affects not only one person, but families and the community as well.

Karen Widico, Executive Director of Hunterdon Prevention Resources, acted as the evening's Facilitator.

Senator Kip Bateman, a co-sponsor of the above bill, spoke to a crowd of about 40 parents, students, and government officials, outlining the purpose of the bill - to save lives! Senator Bateman answered questions about how the law could save the lives of those who overdose on drugs, whether prescription or illicit, by providing amnesty to those who call 911 for medical help. The law would not provide amnesty if drug distribution is involved.

Pam Sanquini and Linda Surks, both of whom lost their sons to a prescription drug overdose, touched the audience as they spoke of their sons, who were good people who made "bad" decisions that cost them their lives. John, an RVCC student currently in recovery, also shared his story; and Dan, a member of the BACCHUS Club and a veteran of the war in Iraq, discussed how drugs affect so many people - at home and at war. Panelists also answered questions from the audience.

Lesley Gabel, Program Director for the Coalition, stated, "We need to support our community to let them know the importance of calling 911 to save the lives of those who can't make the call themselves."

Anyone interested in supporting this legislation is encouraged to contact New Jersey Senator Nicholas Scutari, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who will vote on this bill. Letters in support of the Good Samaritan Bill (S851) can be sent to his office at 1514 East Saint Georges Avenue, 2nd Floor, Linden, NJ 07036; or call the Senator's Office at 908-587-0404 and let them know that you support Bill S851. A sample letter of support appears below.

Senator Nicholas Scutari
New Jersey State Senate
1514 East Saint Georges Avenue
2nd Floor
Linden, NJ 07036

Re: Support of the Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act

Dear Senator Scutari:

I am writing to request that you support and pass Bill S851, the Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act.

The primary goal of this bill is to save lives! Deaths from drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in New Jersey, but many of these deaths could be prevented if medical assistance were sought immediately.

Hundreds of lives can be saved each year with the passage of this bill - by letting people know that all it takes is one phone call. By removing the threat of arrest for those who call 911 for medical help in the case of a drug overdose from either prescription or illegal substances, a life could be saved.

It is important that we support our community to let them know the importance of calling 911 to save the lives of those who cannot make the call themselves.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this important request.

Sincerely,



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