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ATTORNEY GENERAL J.B. VAN HOLLEN JOINS FIRST RESPONDERS TO INTRODUCE STATEWIDE PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT HEROIN ABUSE

 

The Wisconsin Department of Justice Awards Dane County Narcotics and Gang Task Force $25,000 Grant to Fight Heroin Abuse

 

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen joined UW-Madison Police Chief Susan Riseling, Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis and other community leaders to announce a $25,000 grant award to the Dane County Narcotics and Gang Task Force and to introduce a statewide public awareness campaign to prevent Heroin use.  The multimedia campaign, The Fly Effect, was developed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice to educate teens, young adults and others about Heroin and the consequences – potentially deadly consequences -- of using this highly dangerous illegal drug. 

 

“Law enforcement, health care providers, and first responders already know that Heroin is a major issue confronting our state,” Attorney General Van Hollen said.  “It is my goal to educate young people, and those who care about young people, about the dangers of this illegal drug so they never experiment with it, and so we can put a stop to this epidemic before it takes another life,” Van Hollen said of the campaign introduced today.

 

“This grant will do great things to combat a huge problem that has touched every community in Wisconsin, and across the nation,” UW-Madison Police Chief Susan Riseling said.  “We worked hard to secure these funds, and we're confident this campaign will make a difference in saving lives, and keep people away from this highly addictive and deadly drug.”


“Our community has been hit hard by the growing Heroin epidemic.  This drug is taking lives, and draining resources.  The Dane County Sheriff’s Office is committed to joining with our partners in education and public safety to stop this deadly trend,” Sheriff Dave Mahoney said.  “In addition to enforcement, increased awareness and accessible treatment options are key to saving lives and preventing the addiction before it starts.”

 

“The Madison Police Department took an early lead when the Heroin epidemic surfaced, implementing a comprehensive approach aimed at saving lives, helping families, getting addicts help, and reducing crime.  Safe Communities of Madison-Dane County has done a tremendous job bringing together a number of community partners, but there is much work to be done,” Police Chief Noble Wray said.  “Attorney General Van Hollen’s continued support is very much appreciated as we all come together to fight this highly addictive and dangerous drug, and the public health crisis it has created.”

 

What do you mean by “The Fly Effect”?

The campaign theme is inspired by the nursery rhyme “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly,” which is used in the campaign’s TV spot, available here.  The song’s escalation and spiral parallels the unexpected and uncontrollable spiral associated with Heroin addiction.

 

As part of the campaign, former users as well the parents of former users – some of whom have passed away from Heroin abuse – share their personal stories to illustrate the devastating impact of Heroin on addicts and their families.  Law enforcement, community groups, families and others are encouraged to view and to share these videos in their prevention efforts. Click here for personal video testimonials. (Click on the names below for the respective videos)

 

Dan Czerwonka, of Fitchburg, whose 18-year-old daughter passed away in 2009 from a Heroin overdose, shared his story.  “If taking part in this campaign saves at least one child, saves at least one parent from losing a child to this disgusting drug, then it has succeeded,” Czerwonka said.  “No parent ever thinks this addiction can happen to their child, but it can, and that’s why I’m sharing our story.” 

 

Julie Berg lost her son, Tyler, to Heroin in February of 2012.  “Sometimes we are planted in the darkness to be a light.  Awareness is critical.  Warn your children of Heroin’s deceptive power, and remind them it can look as innocent as a pill,” Julie said.  “The minds of Heroin addicts are altered; it takes a supernatural power to bring them hope.  I'm thankful The Wisconsin Department of Justice has listened and responded to our cry.  I pray my story sheds a splash of light and may the healing begin.”

“We will suffer the loss of our son to a Heroin overdose for the rest of our lives,”


Carol Buege of DeForest said.  “Never assume that your child is immune to drugs.  This project is badly needed to inform kids and parents of the dangers and heartache of Heroin and it gives me a small measure of peace knowing that we're helping others stay alive.”


“Every Spiral Has Its Start”

At TheFlyEffect.com, visitors are prompted to make a series of decisions related to Heroin, all of which are designed to illustrate the painful, and often devastating, choices associated with abuse. 

 

For the last several years, Heroin trafficking and Heroin use have risen dramatically throughout Wisconsin.  In 2005, twenty-two counties submitted Heroin cases to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab.  By 2011, the number of counties submitting Heroin cases increased to 37.  In 2012, fifty-six counties – representing every part of Wisconsin -- were making Heroin submissions to the lab.

 

Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis recounts his department’s experience dealing with this public health issue in the Madison-area.  “The Madison Fire Department Emergency Medical Services respond frequently to overdoses of heroin,” Chief Davis said.  “The department does carry drugs to reverse the effects of the illegal substance; however, the increase in cases has really taxed our personnel and resources.  Not only do we see single overdoses, but we are consistently seeing multiple patients at one scene who are all in a life-threatening status.  The result is potential for a dwindling rate of survival for overdose victims, as more resources are needed to keep pace with the increased rate of these emergencies.”

 

As part of its grant application, the Dane County Narcotics and Gang Task Force identified the need for a consultant to develop training sessions for adults and a separate program for youth.  Since 2011, the Task Force has been one of dozens of community partners -- representing law enforcement, drug treatment and health care providers, judges and attorneys, emergency responders, public health leaders and policy makers -- to work with Safe Communities of Madison-Dane County to address opiate abuse. 

 

Visit TheFlyEffect.com for more information about Heroin, personal stories and treatment resources.  Downloadable materials (including posters, brochures, fact sheets and other resources) from The Fly Effect also are available at the DOJ’s website at www.doj.state.wi.us.