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Richard Piatt ReportingSalt Lake City's mayor is fighting a new social battle this week. This one is a plea for drug abusers to get treatment and to call for help if a friend overdoses.
This is a campaign that is controversial for the same reason it is significant. It acknowledges that people do drugs, that they sometimes overdose, and that lives can be saved.
Jack Plum lost his son Andrew to a heroin overdose ten years ago. Andrew's friends never called for help. The pain and memory is still fresh
There are other families affected by the same thing. Most recently, a hiker found 18-year old Amelia Sorich in a canyon east of Bountiful. So-called friends had abandoned her after she overdosed a cocktail of cocaine and heroin. Like Sorich's family, Plumb is still asking, Why didn't anyone call for help?
Jack Plumb, Son Died of Heroin Overdose: "Unfortunately, on the day he overdosed he was with people who chose not to call 9-1-1, who left the room and let him die."
Mayor Rocky Anderson is starting a campaign to encourage people to call for help if a companion overdoses. Quick response can make a difference. Overdose cases are not always fatal.
For example, Paramedics performed CPR and used a defibrillator on Greg Nelson's daughter when she OD'd on a prescription drug a few years ago.
Greg Nelson, Daughter Survived Overdose: "She was in a coma for three and a half days and survived and emerged as the daughter I always wanted to have around."
In Utah two years ago 302 people died of drug overdoses, 134 of those in Salt Lake County. Health officials see those deaths as 'preventable'.
Greg Nelson: "If that happens to you, please call 9-1-1. Save a mother's child. Save a father's child."
Critics of the mayor's campaign say this is harm reduction at its worst, that fighting drug abuse should be the mayor's focus. The mayor thinks ignoring drug abuse is tantamount to burying one's head in the sand.