WHITE PLAINS, NY - Westchester County Board of Health President R. Steven Nakashima presented 21 police officers, their chiefs and commissioners, along with Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD, with certificates of special recognition on Thursday for saving the lives of more than a dozen people in Westchester who were near death due to an opiate overdose during the past year.
“We thank all of you for your partnership with us, for your service to our communities and for helping to save the lives of residents who are battling addiction,” Nakashima said during the ceremony at the Westchester County Center. “This is just one step in the long battle to overcome opioid addiction. Major funding and work is needed to help prevent drug abuse and to assist those recovering from the effects of drug addiction. These people are our friends, coworkers and family members.”
During the past year, with the support of County Executive Robert P. Astorino and the Westchester County Department of Health, more than 750 police officers in 28 police departments have received training on how to give Narcan to opioid overdose victims. When administered correctly, the nasal spray Narcan restores breathing that has been dangerously slowed by an opiate overdose. Narcan, the brand name for the drug Nalaxone, works within a minute or two and gives emergency responders time to get the victim to a hospital.
Dr. Amler, who was surprised by the Board’s recognition, applauded the officers and said she would like to see every officer in Westchester and every police department trained to administer Narcan. She also noted that the health department has opened training to the public and had trained 15 residents in Somers recently. To register for the next health department training on July 22 at 10 a.m. in White Plains
“Saving someone’s life, when you’re not a doctor is a really big deal,” she said. “I think these officers have been very brave in doing what they’re doing. And now we are working with the Department of Community Mental Health to connect these people with rehab services because it isn’t enough to save a life, we have to change that life, too.”
Accepting his award as well as awards for Officers Christopher Johnson, Joseph Garafolo and Joseph Miedreich, alongside Sgt. Vincenzo Battaglia, White Plains Public Safety Commissioner David Chong said, “I want to thank the Board of Health and the county. We all realize this is an epidemic, and it’s not going away anytime soon. You see these heroes we have here today – every one of them is responsible for saving a life.”
Certificates were awarded to the following officers and their chiefs: Croton on Hudson Chief Anthony Tramaglini and Officers Thomas Leonard and Douglas Garrido; Lewisboro Chief Frank Secret and Officer David Alfano; Mamaroneck Chief Christopher Leahy and Officer Douglas Barron; New Castle Chief Charles Ferry and Officer Arthur Mendoza; Pelham Chief Joseph Benefico and Officer Eugene Sisto; White Plains Public Safety Commissioner David Chong, Sgt. Vincenzo Battaglia, Officers Christopher Johnson, Joseph Garafolo and Joseph Miedreich; Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner and Officers Theron Park, Christopher Balazentis, Joseph Mahoney and Thomas Allison.