WATERVLIET, Mich. — After successfully changing state law, a local family is now fighting to making sure other families and teens know about it to potentially save a life.
In September, lawmakers approved legislation expanding the state's so-called 'Good Samaritan' act to provide limited immunity to anyone in Michigan reporting any kind of drug overdose.
Lori Mizwicki initially fought to successfully change the law in 2015 to include protections for minors reporting prescription pill overdoses after her 16-year-old son, Mason—a stand-out student athlete and popular Watervliet junior—consumed a lethal dose of methadone while attending a New Year's Eve 'skittles' party.
Mizwicki returned to Lansing the following year to take it even further by expanding the law to include limited protections for all overdose reports.
“We know Mason made a bad decision, but most of the time when you make a mistake, especially at 16, you get a second chance," she testified before lawmakers in Lansing in May.
“I believe he would be alive today had his friends been able to call and know they wouldn’t be in trouble."
While it is a law that, this New Years Eve, comes two years too late for the Mizwicki's, the family hopes having a constant reminder on the roads in the community will spare other families the same pain.
Pride Care Ambulance has agreed to display a graphic on their newest vehicle promoting the 'Good Samaritan' act with a picture of Mason.
"Know the law, make the call, save a life," the graphic reads, which was designed by Mason's aunt, Brandi Huyser, who accompanied Mason's mother to several legislative hearings in Lansing to lobby for the law change.
Marie Eisbrenner, COO of Pride Care said the increase in people calling to report an overdose since the passage of the law is notable.
"Sometimes when we get the call it’s too late and we can’t do anything, but with the Good Samaritan act, along with Narcan being carried by the first responders, we’re able to actually save more lives this way," Eisbrenner said.
“I think people aren’t afraid anymore and that’s why we wanted to get awareness out, especially this time of year."
The ambulance will be housed in the company's Coloma garage so it will be visible in the Watervliet area, Eisenbrenner said.
Mizwicki and Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, who co-sponsored the bi-partisan amendment, remain adamant the law changes do not condone drug use but acknowledge the reality of a growing overdose epidemic.
"This isn’t being soft on drugs or soft on crime, this about being smart and getting emergency help for people," Pscholka previously told FOX 17. "This is an epidemic and this is a response to that.”
Drug overdose deaths in Michigan increased by 14 percent to more than 1,700 in 2014, the last year for which data is available, according to the state police. Drug poisonings have been on the rise since 2012.
Thirty-seven states have enacted some form of a Good Samaritan or 911 drug immunity law since 2007, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Last year, a prescription drug and opioid abuse task force created by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder recommended exploring immunity from prosecution for low-level drug offenses when medical aid is sought.