Three 15-year-old teens set out on a bike ride down Purick Street in Bayport on Saturday, Sept.12.
Little did they know, they’d later be credited by Islip Town officials for saving the life of an unconscious man who nearly died of an opioid overdose.
While biking, three Bayport teens – Riley Spencer, Ethan Christophersen and Braedan Downey – came upon an unconscious male motorist in the middle of the street. According to a police report, the victim was found unconscious in the driver’s seat of a black Hyundai sedan around 3 p.m. The engine was still running.
The group of teens tried to wake the individual, but were unsuccessful. They proceeded to call 911 and stayed with the victim until first responders arrived on scene. The Bayport Fire Department arrived and administered two rounds of Narcan, which revived the overdose victim.
Police reports said the individual was transferred to Long Island Community Hospital by Sayville Community Ambulance.
The trio was recognized by the town for their quick action at a ceremony Oct. 28, where they received town citations from supervisor Angie Carpenter, councilwoman Mary Kate Mullen and Islip Youth Enrichment services executive director MaryAnn Pfeiffer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were over 70,000 opioid and heroin overdose deaths last year – more than any year in history.
Mental health issues often coincide with addiction. Pfeiffer said while the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation has brought about an influx of mental health issues, the spike in opioid use is not solely tied to the pandemic.
“I think we’re all in this pandemic, so it brings about the good and the bad,” Pfeiffer said in an interview. “For instance, there are more people helping others, more food drives. But we’re also going to see a rise in mental health issues. Again, it’s not just because they’re isolated. There are so many factors.”
Pfeiffer, who also serves as co-chair of the town’s Opioid/Heroin Task Force, said all YES staff have completed Narcan training because they work with communities at risk. She noted that Bayport, Blue Point and Sayville are just as at risk as other disadvantaged communities in Islip.
The recognition ceremony coincided with the town’s “Islip Goes Purple” campaign, a month-long campaign to “heighten the awareness of addiction and recovery,” Pfeiffer said. In September, the Town Hall cupolas went purple for the campaign.
Carpenter said the town’s campaign has increased awareness about opioid and heroin use and overdoses happening locally and across the country.
“There are resources available to those suffering from addiction, and to their families,” she said in a press release. “The boys’ actions saved a man’s life and prevented him from becoming yet another victim, another statistic, and we are so proud of them.”
Mullen, the town board liaison to the Opioid/Heroin Task Force, said she’s proud of the teens for their responsible actions.
“This is an epidemic and this year has been the worst ever,” Mullen said. “We need to have more boys react like these three, and we need to end this epidemic.”
The boys brought awareness to the epidemic, Pfeiffer said, and were exposed to a closer look at addiction.
“I think through this pandemic, we’re learning so much about ourselves and what we’re willing to sacrifice for others,” Pfeiffer said. “These kids are the epitome of that self-sacrifice.”