Chicago father hopes HB 3445 can prevent future tragedies

Christmas morning in 2018 proved to be a day of tragedy for the family of Bill Green. The Chicago man received word from the police that his 25-year-old son Alex had died of a fentanyl overdose at a gas station in the outskirts of the city.

Since his son’s death, Green has taken it upon himself to prevent other families from suffering similar tragedies. He has worked with members of the Illinois legislature to push HB 3445, often known as the “Opioid Overdose Reduction Act” or “Alex’s Law”.

 

Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.

 

The bill would allow for someone suffering from an overdose to receive immunity from potential criminal charges if they make a good faith effort to seek treatment. Green believes if the law had existed in 2018, his son may still be alive today.

Green saw security camera footage from the gas station on the day his son died. Someone had driven his son to the gas station and left his there. He described the scene:

“Alex staggered and stumbled into the gas station where he received no help from the staff as they thought he was intoxicated.  He attempted to go in the back and use the bathroom, the staff would not buzz him into the bathroom.  He staggered around dome more and after quite a few minutes, two police officers arrived.  The two officers poked and prodded him also assuming he was drunk as he collapsed to the floor.  The two officers tried to talk to him and when they turned to look at the door, it was clear Alex had passed.  Only at this time did the officers understand that this was an overdose and not alcohol.  The ranking officer immediately pulled a container of Narcan off of his belt and sprayed it into Alex’s nose.  It was too late, my son had died on the floor in the back of a gas station.”

He told State of Reform that ten minutes had gone by between the car dropping Alex off and the police arriving to help him. Had the man who was driving Alex called the police or taken him to a hospital that was only four blocks away, he may be alive.

Green worked with Rep. Janet Yang Rohr to write and support HB 3445. He hopes that the bill’s passage would prevent other families from suffering from similar tragedies .The bill is set to go to a third reading on the house floor in the coming weeks. 

Overdose deaths have become a problem for health officials in Illinois. There was a 30% increase in opioid deaths in 2020 as compared to 2019. A recent study by Northwestern University also found that a majority of those deaths came before the patient could be seen by a medical professional.