LIMA — “Thanks for arresting me.”
It’s a phrase most law enforcement officers don’t get to hear often. But it was exactly what Nichole Hollar, a recovering drug addict, wanted to tell the officers who helped her when she was at her lowest.
The Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize, and Hardin Counties partnered with the Allen County Commissioners to recognize the efforts of fire, emergency medical services and law enforcement officers — those on the front lines of the opioid epidemic — and to show appreciation for their work in Allen County during a Tuesday event.
Mental Health Board Executive Director Mike Schoenhofer said he wanted officers to hear from a survivor of the opioid epidemic to understand that their efforts can have a positive end result. As is often the case, first responders are the ones who meet a problem and then pass it down the line, Schoenhofer said, and they don’t get to see how cases turn out.
“They get all the bad news. We wanted to give them the good news.” Schoenhofer said. “This was a chance for them to meet someone they saved.”
Hollar attended the event with her recovery coach, Charles Oen. Just six months ago, she had been on death’s door because of a bad batch of heroin, but the emergency medical technicians who responded helped her survive through shots of naloxone, a nasal spray that reverses opioid overdoses. Hollar needed three to pull through.
“My whole body was shutting down,” she said.
Today, she’s clean and willing to give back. She hopes to volunteer at the Crisis Stabilization Unit, a place she knows from the inside out due to prior stays. Eventually, she wants to become a peer counselor like Oen, who she describes as the “best recovery coach ever.”
Oen knows Hollar’s proposed path from drug addict to counselor well. Oen ended up serving two and half years for burglarizing a house in Columbus Grove while high on cocaine and dope in 2011.
It just goes to show that the help given out by first responders reverberates down the line.
“They either arrest or revive, or take them to the hospital. It’s not often they get to see what happens,” Schoenhofer said.
The event held at the Mental Health Board is just one of many this week recognizing the efforts of first responders. The week of April 9 through April 13 is “First Responders Awareness Week.” A similar event will be held at the Auglaize County Administration Building on Thursday and in Hardin County on Wednesday.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.