Billboard campaign seeks to bring attention to state’s Good Samaritan ActBy CALEB MCCLUSKEY,
The Pinebelt Foundation and Jeffery’s Fund partnered with Lamar Outdoor Advertising for a billboard campaign aimed to save lives.
The campaign features a total of seven billboards around the Pine Belt that read, “If you witness a drug overdose… Don’t run. Call 911. The Mississippi Good Samaritan Law protects you from arrest.”
James Moore is owner of Moore’s Bicycle Shop and founder of a group called Road to Recovery, which is a group to help those with substance abuse disorder. He also created Jeffery’s Fund, in memory of his son who died of an accidental overdose, which is overseen by the Pinebelt Foundation, an organization that provides support to the community through philanthropy by managing the charitable resources of individuals, like Moore, and corporations. The fund was created in partnership with Heritage United Methodist Church to help meet the financial needs of those on the road to recovery.
Moore said the campaign was created to bring awareness to Mississippi Medical Emergency Good Samaritan Act, MS code 41-29-1491 which was made law in 2015.
“I knew of the Good Samaritan Law for a while, but I had not seen any attempt by anyone local or on the state level to promote the law,” Moore said. “After we had another death last October that (the law) would have been very relevant to, I decided that I wanted to use some of Jeffery’s Funds to bring attention to the law.”
The law expresses that any person who seeks medical assistance for someone who is experiencing a drug overdose or any person experiencing a drug overdose and seeks medical assistance or is subject of a request for medical assistance shall not be arrested charged or prosecuted for a drug violation if there is evidence that the person is under the influence of a controlled substance or in possession of a controlled substance.
Moore said the law saves lives and must be made common knowledge so people can benefit from it.
“We still have people dying in our area who die because their friends – who may be using drugs with them – realize they are unconscious, panic, and rather than calling 911, staying there and providing CPR or rescue breathing, they just flee the scene,” he said. “Had they stayed on the scene and followed the instructions of the dispatch, it could’ve made the difference in that person living or not.”
Moore said he wants families to talk about substance abuse, and feel comfortable enough to openly talk about substance and mental disorders within their family with their children.
“I hope that the signs will spark a conversation within families,” he said. “I hope parents will talk to their kids because so many kids are involved in substance abuse, and their parents don’t have a clue.”
Michael Dixon, Pinebelt Foundation executive director, said the foundation helps with all of the bookkeeping for the Jeffery’s Fund and is proud to help the community in any way.
“I am always in favor of anything that raises awareness and seeks to help those who struggle with addiction and to equip and educate their support systems,” he said. “If we provide even one more chance for a person to achieve sobriety, that is a life saved and worth all of the effort.”