Doug Edwards

By Doug Edwards

Senior Vice President, HMP Education

"If they hadn’t been there, who knows what would have happened?”

For many years, the Rx and Illicit Drug Summit has provided the critical education that stakeholders battling the opioid crisis can implement in their communities.

This year, a group of Cocoa, Florida police officers put their overdose prevention training to use while at the Rx Summit, administering lifesaving naloxone to a man showing signs of an opioid overdose at a city park.

Rx Summit was held April 1-4 in Atlanta, bringing together thousands of stakeholders “from federal to family” working to address the opioid epidemic across the United States. Its educational program focused on prevention, treatment, and recovery, including the importance of identifying the signs of an overdose and administering the rapid reversal opioid antagonist, naloxone.

“We were going to dinner after the Summit, and as we walked through the park, we saw a gentleman collapse,” said Cpl. Gabriel Tulier. “We rushed over, and we could see that he was unconscious, not breathing.”

Tulier, K9 Officer Donald Tabor, and his wife, Victims Advocate Joanna Tabor, recognized the signs of someone experiencing an overdose. Tulier began CPR, and the group asked bystanders to call 911. When Atlanta police arrived, they provided the officers with Narcan (the brand name of naloxone).

Tulier administered two doses of Narcan and the man regained consciousness.

“When his color returned, they put him on an ambulance and took him to the hospital,” said Stanley Brizz, Executive Director of the Brevard Prevention Coalition. “We’re glad these officers were there, that they recognized the symptoms of an overdose, and we’re glad this man lived. If they hadn’t been there, who knows what would have happened?”

Joanna Tabor said the Cocoa Police Department is diligent in following up and providing services for their community, and they encouraged local authorities to follow up with the overdose survivor.

“When it comes to overdoses, it takes a network,” she said. “It’s about partnerships and community. When someone survives an overdose, we follow up with the person afterward. It takes counseling and rehabilitation, and we encourage families to get involved.”

Maria Bledsoe, CEO of Central Florida Cares, Inc., the organization that sponsored Brevard Prevention Coalition to bring the Cocoa police officers to the Rx Summit, said the incident shows the importance of having Narcan readily available.

“The fact that they were there, this happened right outside the Summit, and they saved a life right there, it shows how important it is that everyone has access to Narcan, and it’s administered immediately,” Bledsoe said.

At Rx Summit

More than 1 million people have died of overdose deaths since the opioid crisis began, impacting communities throughout the U.S. Rx Summit’s high quality educational program brings together diverse groups of stakeholders in the fight against opioid addiction, where solutions are formulated and shared. 

It’s a conference Brizz said is a priority for law enforcement groups in the Brevard Prevention Coalition’s four-county area, and at Rx Summit they learn from other agencies and related fields about addiction treatment and prevention. 

“This is not just a law enforcement issue,” he said. “It is important for law enforcement to collaborate with health departments, clinicians, and advocacy groups who are trying to prevent addiction or, on the back end, helping people to recover. It’s about the continuum of care and making sure we’re not working in silos.”

The Brevard Prevention Coalition had two booths in the 2024 Rx Summit Exhibit Hall, one featuring the Gen Z-focused Better Without It campaign emphasizing harm reduction, and one featuring the I Choose Me campaign designed for youth and families that encourages positive life choices. 

“We wanted large law enforcement representation from our regions to go to Rx Summit,” Brizz said. “It is the most preeminent conference on the addiction and opioid crisis, the one to go to. The decision-makers in our state and federal government, all the subject matter experts, professionals, law enforcement, treatment providers, and even U.S. presidents come. … At Rx Summit, we make connections with other municipalities in other states that we might not have had at other conferences.”

Every day, Rx Summit attendees are saving lives across the country — in their offices, out in their neighborhoods, and even while at events like Rx Summit. We applaud the quick thinking of the Cocoa police officers, and we invite stakeholders across all disciplines to join us in Nashville next April as we share what’s working to improve the health and safety of our communities.

The 2025 Rx Summit will be held April 21-24 in Nashville. For more information, visit