By MARY ANN HOLLEY
As he waited to speak at the annual Associated General Contractors Safety Awards banquet, Laborers Local 110 Business Manager Don Willey said he’d be talking about the tragedy of opioid addiction but didn’t want to play the grieving father. His adult son, Matt, 36, suffered from opioid addiction and died of a heroin overdose less than two years ago.
Look into Willey’s eyes and you can see that he is grieving whether he wants that role or not.
It’s somewhat the same with opioid addiction and an opioid or heroin overdose. Once you’re addicted, it is a life-threatening battle to break free.
Willey presented a check for $500 to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Addiction (NCADA) to help save lives with NARCAN, an FDA-approved emergency nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
A slide show at the Safety Awards event showed what that looks like – the pinpoint pupils that identify the eyes of an opioid overdose. That’s where NARCAN can save a life, Willey said.
“Whether it’s an opioid overdose, a heart attack or stroke, giving NARCAN is specifically for opioid overdose and will have no effect otherwise,” Willey said. “It’s perfectly safe and an important drug to have on hand if you love someone with an opioid addiction.”
NARCAN is the first and only FDA-approved nasal form of emergency treatment for a known or suspected opioid overdose. It’s easy to administer, is not harmful and could save a life.
Since most accidental overdoses occur in a home setting, NARCAN was originally developed for first responders, as well as family, friends, and caregivers of opioid addicts. Willey also wants to see it on every job site.
“All my union reps will carry NARCAN in their cars,” Willey said. “I want NARCAN to be available to everyone when needed,” he said.
SCHOLARSHIP FUND FOR THOSE IN RECOVERY
Willey recently formed the Matt Willey Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships to people wanting to enter recovery who lack financial means to pay for treatment. Initial donations to the fund totaled $15,500, including $5,000 from Local 110.
At the Safety Awards banquet the AGC also donated $500 to the fund and another $500 to the 21-14 Concussion Awareness Foundation, formed by Dr. John Gaal, director of Training and Workforce Development for the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, in memory of son John Stefan Gaal Jr., a former high school football and soccer player who killed himself at 24 after a years-long battle with concussions and mental illness.
The AGC also presented Construction Project Safety Awards in the following categories:
• Up to 10,000 work hours with no accidents: Bell Electrical Contractors, Inc.; Collins & Hermann, Inc.; HBD Construction, Inc.; Interface Construction Corporation; KAI Design & Build and The UP Companies.
• Accident free for 25,000 to 50,000 work hours: McGrath & Associates, Inc.
• Accident free for over 50,000 work hours: Guarantee Electrical Company; Icon Mechanical; McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. and MC Industrial, Inc.
• Zero Recordable Accidents Safety Award (ZRASA); Bell Electrical Contractors, Inc.; ISC Contracting, Inc. and S. M. Wilson & Co.