MANATEE -- Cedar Hammock Firefighter Mike Dunn was awarded the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Firefighter Award on March 10 for developing the Your Life Matters cards for victims of overdoses.
Florida State VFW Commander Amber Putman, chairman of the Award Committee, Pat Love, and VFW Post 10141 Commander Tony Fouse presented the award to Dunn for his "exemplary and courageous service to the community and the nation."
Dunn developed the Your Life Matters cards, which have a list of places to go for help with addictions. The cards were Dunn's idea and Drug Free Manatee, a county organization dedicated to preventing drug use, created and distributed the cards.
Merab Favorite, communications coordinator for Drug Free Manatee, said the cards have expanded past Manatee County.
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"Our efforts have also gone regional, with the Central Florida Behavioral Health Network adapting the cards to reflect substance abuse help information for different regions," Favorite said in an email.
First responders in Manatee County carry the cards to leave with overdose victims after they have been saved, so they have the resource when and if they decide to seek help. Drug Free Manatee has distributed thousands of the cards.
"What I have discovered these last few months is this: These overdose patients are real people with real hearts and they are hurting," Dunn wrote describing the idea. "The worst part is if they want to get help, it is hard to find where to start."
"The first thing these patients see on the card is 'Your Life Matters' because it does! We care about every person in our community and they matter to us," Dunn continued. "What started as a simple answer to a question has turned into a countywide movement to show our community that we care!"