SOMERSET – Nearly three dozen individuals and a variety of agencies from across Somerset and Pulaski County dropped off 27,735 pills and other medications during a “Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day” program held Tuesday, November 9.
All of the drugs were incinerated on-site by Operation UNITE’s “Pill Dragon” – a mobile incinerator provided by the Kentucky Army National Guard and offered in conjunction with Eastern Kentucky PRIDE.
“This was one of the most successful events we have had since the Pill Dragon debuted in August, both in terms of the quantity of pills and number of different individuals taking advantage of the program,” said Karen Kelly, director of both UNITE and PRIDE.
Kathy Hall, chair of the Pulaski County UNITE Coalition, credited the success to support given by Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jack Keeney and to efforts of coalition members in “getting the word out.”
A constant flow of individuals brought bags filled with old medications to the event, held in the chamber’s parking lot on U.S. 27. The first 10 people to stop by received a lock box to store medicines.
The Somerset Police Department’s K-9 officers brought by pills from a local nursing home and Pulaski County Sheriff Todd Wood used the incinerator to dispose of $54,000 worth of pills and methamphetamine confiscated by his office. Others taking advantage of the program were veterinary clinics, pharmacists and Lake Cumberland Regional Medical Center.
As pills were brought in they were logged, separated from their packaging by members of the National Guard, and burned. Coalition members distributed information about UNITE to participants.
UNITE’s Pill Dragon has now consumed 223,894 pills in 14 events in just over three months, noted Kelly.
“It is important to properly store and dispose of medications for two reasons,” Kelly continued. “First, it reduces your risk of being the victim of a burglary or theft. Second, it avoids the potential health and environmental effects of having these substances in our water system and soil.”
In addition to the Pill Dragon, the chamber arranged for Bob Boon and James Simpson from Innovacycle LLC to be on hand to shred documents for the public. Donations received for this service will be donated to God’s Food Pantry.