First responders recognized at 2nd Lima event

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — Watching Brooke Sloan, the first survivor graduating out of the SAAFE program, stand in front of a crowd and share her story, Sgt. Nick Hart got to see the results of his hard work.

“I didn’t want anything to do with my life when I was using,” Sloan said. And now: “I can smile and feel happy.”

“There’s nothing like saving a life.” Hart said. “There’s nothing that feels that good.”

During the second event of “First Responder Awareness Week,” organized through the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties, a group of mental health professionals and recovering former drug addicts visited the Lima Municipal Building to thank Lima’s first responders and share the stories of recovering addicts with those who did the saving.

Hart’s program, the SAAFE or, Substance Abuse Assistance For Everyone, program offers addicts a way to avoid criminal charges if they agree to talking to treatment professionals.

Hart said getting opioid addicts treatment can be difficult, as they may not be completely trusting of an officer in uniform, but once police officers start introducing mental health professionals to those suffering from an addiction, drug users start to understand the benefits.

The Mental Health Board organized a similar event in Allen County recognizing Allen County and township first responders on Tuesday as well as a corresponding event in Hardin County Wednesday. An event is also scheduled to be held Thursday in Auglaize County.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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