Tags Posts tagged with "Kevin Redding"

Kevin Redding

by -
0 844
File photo

By Kevin Redding

“We have a problem, and that problem is heroin. It’s a harsh reality.”

Setauket Fire Commissioner Jay Gardiner spoke at length about the heroin and opiate addiction issue that has swept Suffolk County at a Three Village Civic Association meeting at the Emma S. Clark Library on Monday night.

As guest speaker, Gardiner addressed the importance of having a dialogue with teens and children about the dangerous consequences of these specific drugs and staying on top of how much medication people consume to avoid overdoses. Gardiner also said it was important that residents recognize why heroin has become so prevalent.

According to Gardiner, the county’s affluence plays a large factor.

“Among the most common hard drugs, including methamphetamine and crack, heroin is the most expensive,” Gardiner said. “Out on the South Shore and other areas on Long Island that have different financial demographics, cheap drugs like methamphetamine and crack are much more obtainable while heroin isn’t. High schoolers and college students in Suffolk County, whose ages make up the majority of users, might have an ability to buy the more expensive drug.”

In the United States, drug overdose deaths have exceeded car crashes as the number one cause of injury death, according to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Two Americans die of drug overdoses every hour and 2,500 youths aged between 12 and 17 abuse prescription drugs for the first time every day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids — a class of drugs that include prescription pain medications and heroin — were involved in 28,648 deaths nationwide in 2014.

Gardiner admitted that he can’t lecture on how to control every North Shore kid’s behavior, however, and steered his presentation less on how to prevent the drug use and more on how to recognize when somebody is experiencing an overdose and being able to take the appropriate steps to save their lives. He specifically focused on using the anti-opiate overdose antidote Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan.

Gardiner said he knows of hundreds of cases just last year in which Narcan saved someone’s life from overdose in Suffolk County, and said that number is growing exponentially.

“We use this atomizing medication Narcan when the person we see is not responding,” said Gardiner, who demonstrated how to exert the intranasal spray into each of the patient’s nostrils. “You will revive these patients, if you’re fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time, in minutes. We use the nose because it’s a large area where it will be absorbed to the bloodstream and remove the opiate effects in that bloodstream quickly.”

As Gardiner explained in his presentation, it’s nearly impossible to find an IV on a patient who has just overdosed because the veins are often badly sclerosed, as indicated by track marks all over the arm. On top of a quick and effective route for absorption, by using the nose as an entry, there’s a much lower risk of exposure to blood.

Because Narcan is also effective against more commonly taken opiate drugs, pain reducers like morphine, oxycodone and fentanyl, older people especially should be aware of how it’s used in a worst case scenario where too many pills are taken to subside an excruciating pain, and an overdose occurs.

Shawn Nuzzo, president of the Three Village Civic Association who brought Gardiner in to speak, says that despite the war on drugs in our country being a failure socially and medically, normal everyday people can make a difference now.

“It’s like having a fire extinguisher in your house,” said Nuzzo. “It’s not gonna fix faulty wiring, but it’s good to have it there if you need it. It’s so important that people learn how to use antidotes like this. People need to learn how to use a fire extinguisher and they need to learn how to use Narcan.”

Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that pharmacies across New York State would be providing Narcan to its customers without prescription, making it an extremely convenient and important addition to every resident’s medicine cabinet.

“Addiction’s an illness,” Gardiner said. “If you’re a diabetic, you carry insulin. If you’re bipolar, you have drugs to treat bipolar illness. We can’t treat addiction with drugs but we can certainly have these things around in case of an emergency because it is an illness and it’s so important to have this in your home. We can’t cure the addiction, but we can save the life even if it’s only temporarily.”

Ed Mikell shows off a clean bus stop in Commack just as his Seven Cents Club launched earlier this year. File photo by Alex Petroski

By Kevin Redding

Along Crooked Hill Road in Commack, garbage bags are piled up and filled with everything from fast-food wrappers to plastic cups and glass bottles. Tires, hubcaps, license plates and various construction materials are leaned up against a wooden post.

Only an hour or two prior, all these items were littered over the roads, sidewalks and grass. However, thanks to 73-year-old retired Commack resident Ed Mikell, the founder of the Seven Cents Club of Commack — a volunteer group of young people and retirees alike — the community can enjoy something scarcely seen when traveling through any town: cleanliness.

For all of his work cleaning up Commack, Mikell was named a 2015 Times Beacon Record Newspapers Person of the Year.

It all started when Mikell was cleaning a bus stop, where he discovered seven cents on the ground.

“My father [is] super energetic,” said Ed’s daughter and cleanup volunteer Jennifer Mikell. “He’s been retired for eight years and in his retirement he’s really done a lot to help others, whether it’s helping people balance their finances and figure out their own retirement, or helping out a local charity group that he works at a couple days a week.”

The Seven Cents Club sports its name on a spiffy garbage can in town. File photo by Alex Petroski
The Seven Cents Club sports its name on a spiffy garbage can in town. File photo by Alex Petroski

She explained that her father was frustrated that so many areas in his town had become so uncared for and unclean for so long.

“He wants to make the difference that nobody else is making.”

On Sept. 21, 2014, Mikell first took it upon himself to clean up an “unofficial” bus stop on Crooked Hill Road simply because he didn’t want people to have to stand in garbage. He went home, equipped himself with pails and some tools and went to work.

Using an abandoned shopping cart that had been turned sideways so people at the bus stop could sit down, Mikell filled up his pail four times, threw the garbage in the shopping cart, and wheeled it across the street to toss in a dumpster.

After making the bus stop pristine, Mikell reached out to the supervisor of Smithtown along with other Suffolk County representatives for some help, as he had become driven to clean up his neighborhood. A year later, Mikell has rallied together a small group of determined volunteers and has partnered with Suffolk County’s Adopt-A-Highway Program to secure cleanups on Crooked Hill Road up to its intersection with Commack Road.

The unofficial bus stop now has a white bench and a brown garbage can marked “7 Cents Club of Commack” placed alongside it.

“This is something that I thought would be a nice thing to do for the community,” Mikell said. “I’m just doing my part, [and] doing what I can as opposed to not doing something. I’m not marching and championing causes and all that stuff, but this is something I could put my hands around, and maybe make a difference. Abraham Lincoln once said ‘I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives …’ and that’s on the letterhead for the Seven Cents Club.”

The place in which Mikell lives has not ignored his efforts. Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset), who was among those first contacted by Mikell, sees him as “the epitome of a good citizen.”

Ed Mikell overlooks one of his first sites as part of the Seven Cents Club. File photo by Alex Petroski
Ed Mikell overlooks one of his first sites as part of the Seven Cents Club. File photo by Alex Petroski

“He takes a bad situation and makes it better,” Kennedy said. “Instead of sitting around doing nothing in retirement, this man created something. He called the county to get the garbage picked up, he dealt with the town and he did everything that was needed. Who wants to live in ‘pigginess?’ I don’t think he had any other reason for doing it, other than to make something better. We’ll never stop people from littering, [but] truthfully, the difference between last week and the end of what was done this week is noticeable. Really noticeable.”

With volunteers from Dix Hills, Centereach and Hauppauge, there are hopes that this group will inspire more towns to have their own Ed Mikell and Seven Cents Club, but it won’t be easy.

“That’s a big undertaking,” said Ed Feinberg, a Commack resident and club volunteer. “That would require a lot of time and effort. If I’ve walked away from this with one piece of knowledge it’s that it’s not easy, working your way through the red tape of county government and getting corroboration and information, but Ed’s done it. He’s done it very well.”