County officials, staff and community honor the 112 lives lost to overdose in 2018 as well as all other loved ones who lost their lives to addiction; Announce many county events held during Recovery Month in September
Chester County Commissioners Michelle Kichline, Kathi Cozzone and Terence Farrell led a special ceremony this morning to honor the memory of the 112 Chester County residents who lost their lives to accidental overdose in 2018. The event, held in advance of Saturday’s International Overdose Awareness Day, also allowed time for reflection on the thousands of lives lost in Chester County to the disease of addiction over many years, and noted the many programs and events being held by the County and other organizations during Recovery Month in September.
“This morning we think about all of those we have loved in Chester County who lost their lives to overdose, and on Saturday we will join with communities around the world to encourage residents, businesses and community groups to raise awareness of overdose, reduce the stigma surrounding overdoses and drug-related death, and acknowledge the immense grief felt by families and friends who have lost loved ones,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Michelle Kichline.
“And while cherishing the memory of so many people we have all loved is a very important part of this, so too is taking action to keep this from continuing; to fight the battle against opioid and heroin addiction on many fronts – education and prevention, law enforcement, recovery – and even in Chester County – through the lawsuit against the despicable practices of opioid manufacturers and distributors,” added Commissioner Kichline.
Joining the Commissioners at the International Overdose Awareness Day ceremony were Mike Noone, Chester County’s First Assistant District Attorney and head of the County’s Drug Overdose Prevention Task Force and Catherine O’Donnell, a member of Chester County’s Drug & Alcohol Advisory Council and parent who lost her son to opioid addiction.
Through the effective actions of the Chester County Overdose Prevention Task Force – which encompasses leaders in health, drug addiction and law enforcement – the county can claim one of the most comprehensive anti-opioid initiatives in the state. The task force has more than 40 active community partners.
“The actions and achievements of this task force are impressive and include distribution of Naloxone to every municipal police department in the County, and other first responders as well as individuals and community organizations,” said Commissioner Kathi Cozzone. “The efforts of many dedicated individuals have also led to the creation of a COPE program – Community Outreach Prevention and Education – that provides support and direct links to treatment in emergency rooms every hour of every day of the week, for victims of an overdose and for their families, at a level not available anywhere else in the state.”
Another event borne out of the County’s Overdose Prevention Task Force is the Chester County Color 5K, an annual event which has helped to raise awareness of the crisis. More than $110,000 has been raised in the first three years, with proceeds helping to fund the COPE program. This year’s Color 5K will take place on Saturday morning, October 5th, in the Borough of West Chester.
Several Chester County organizations will be holding events as part of International Overdose Awareness Day including:
In addition Chester County has compiled a full calendar of events scheduled in honor of Recovery Month, including “Rock for Recovery", a concert featuring the Mark Evans Band and friends that will be held on Saturday, September 21st at 5:00 p.m. at West Chester University’s Asplundh Hall. The proceeds of this concert will be added to the monies raised by the Chester County Color 5K to fund the County’s COPE program.
The Chester County Department of Drug & Alcohol Services and the Chester County Health Department have also scheduled a Naloxone Day on Wednesday, September 18th when the opioid overdose reversal medication, Naloxone, will be distributed at no cost to the public on a first come, first served basis. The number of locations to collect Naloxone has increased this year to four locations – Coatesville, Exton, Phoenixville and West Grove.
Commenting on Naloxone Day, Chester County Commissioner Terence Farrell noted, “Last year Chester County lost 112 lives to accidental drug overdose, a majority of which involved opioids. The County has worked, and will continue to work with many partners to come up with comprehensive solutions to the opioid epidemic. Access to Naloxone is a key part of that because that medication saves lives.”
A full calendar of all International Overdose Awareness Day and Recovery Month events, plus details of all actions of the Chester County Overdose Prevention Task Force, can be found at www.StopODChesco.org.