65 Police Officers Earn Phoenix Award for Stopping Overdoses

Building Indiana Business

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The Porter County Substance Abuse Council (PCSAC) and the Council’s Drunk Driving Task Force recently presented 65 police officers from various Porter County jurisdictions with the Phoenix Award for the use of Narcan to save lives during drug overdose events.

Chuck Harris, former Porter County coroner, found it fitting to establish the Phoenix Award specifically for first responders that were able to successfully curtail overdoses with Narcan when the opioid epidemic was beginning to rapidly unfold over 5 years ago.

“As coroner, you see the ultimate results of the overdose, after the fact,” said Harris. “By the time I arrived on a scene, the first responders had worked on the victim to revive them from the overdose without success.”

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Chuck Harris, PCSAC President and originator of the Phoenix award, holds the award.PCSAC

In 2021, there was an increase in opioid deaths due to fentanyl and multiple doses of Narcan are required to revive the victim. Indiana reported a 32% increase in fatal overdoses during a 12-month period ending in April 2021, according to the CDC. As of last week in December 2021, Porter County reported 36 overdose deaths. The once novel life-saving strategy of administering Narcan has morphed into a common and accepted best practice, and Indiana now serves the community via vending machines in Porter County and across Indiana.

“Every Porter County police department has been able to assist the community with life saving strategies. As the hub in the substance use and addiction field, Porter County Substance Abuse Council is honored to present 65 responding officers with the Phoenix Award,” said Dawn Pelc, Executive Director.

The list of police departments with officers that received 2021 Phoenix awards includes: Chesterton PD, Alexies DeJesus; Burns Harbor PD, Cpl. Austin Haynes, Sgt. Timothy Lucus, Asst. Chief Jermey McHargue; Hebron PD, Asst. Chief Scott Sejda; Valparaiso PD, Lt. Jerame Simpson, Ofc. John Patston, Ofc. John Nuppnau; Michelle Kodicek, Mark Lamotte, Jeff Kopil; Jacob Myers, Jon Watson, Ryan Sobierajski, Chris Allison, Caleb Hall, Jason Wray, Carol Pytynia, Ben Teufel, John Patston; Portage PD, Ofc. Robert Demitroulas, Ofc. Katie Crook, Lt. Troy Williams, Lt. Joseph Mokol, Ofc. Lou Stanko, Ofc. Cortney Overton, Ofc. Mark Speckhard, Ofc. Andrew Smith, Ofc. Creighton Price, Lt. Janis Crafton, Ofc. Brian Graves, Ofc. Jake Wirick, Ofc. Laura Lightfoot, Ofc. Anthony Ortiz, Ofc. Flora McHenry, Cpl. Robert Nichols, Ofc. Daniel Martinez, Ofc. Benjamin Tobey, Ofc. Steven McGraw, Ofc. David Hudson, Ofc. Alex Leighty, Ofc. Anthony Bohling, Ofc. Jesus Campos, Ofc. Demario Hathorne, Ofc. Gabriel Acevedo, Ofc. Christopher Leer, Ofc. Brandon Gardenhire; and Porter Police Department Tawni Komisarcik, Jason Holaway; Sheriff’s Department, Cpl. Bob Gosbin, Cpl. Tim Bell, Cpl. Nathan Graf, Det. Bill Marshall, Ofc. Bill Knapp; Ofc. Doug Schafer, Ofc. Chris Winterhaler, Ofc. Jamison Smith, Ofc. Chris Vanderpool, Ofc. Tyler Ball, Ofc. Tyler McKinney, Ofc. Matthew Reynolds, Ofc. Andrew Brunton and Ofc. Aaron Estrada.

About PCSAC: The Porter County Substance Abuse Council is a community resource and referral nucleus that provides support to any public and private non-profit agencies, as well as federal, state, local and tribal governments working to prevent and reduce substance abuse in our community. PCSAC can be reached at (219) 462-0946 or by visiting portercountysac.com.

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