Island County coroner named 2013 Health Hero

The Island County Healthy Advisory Board recently recognized Dr. Robert Bishop with the Linda Lee Martens Memorial Health Hero Award of the Year for 2013.

The Island County Healthy Advisory Board recently recognized Dr. Robert Bishop with the Linda Lee Martens Memorial Health Hero Award of the Year for 2013.

The award was given for Bishop’s outstanding commitment to the Impaired Driving Impact Panel of Island County and for contributing to the health and well-being of Island County citizens.

As the Island County coroner, Dr. Bishop’s primary job is to deal with death. With IDIPIC, he has devoted time and energy to prevent deaths and injuries from driving under the influence since IDIPIC began in 2000.

“He’s helped educate over 10,000 people in our communities with great conviction and compassion,” said IDIPIC Director JoAnn Hellmann in a news release. “As he says in these presentations, ‘This is not a natural phenomena, it is a man-made situation and can be solved by man. I am just one of many that are affected by each fatal impaired driving incident.’”

Through the years Bishop has spoken on 39 DUI prevention panels in Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, which entailed over 200 hours in the planning, preparation and presentation. Impact panel attendees have included DUI and minor in possession offenders, driver’s education students, their parents, and NASWI and tenant command personnel at safety training panels, prospective speakers and general public.

“This is nearly half of the over 25,000 IDIPIC has reached with just its panels in the last 13 years,” said Hellmann.

Bishop also served as IDIPIC president and vice president. In late January, he drove over 200 miles round-trip to videotape a young DUI offender in prison and prepare the DVD to show at panel. She will be unable to speak on panel until after her incarceration in 2017 for the crash that caused the deaths of three young men on South Whidbey.

“Feedback from panels since then has shown great impact, especially among the driver’s education students and their parents who are required by their driving school and/or instructor to attend,” Hellmann said.

DUI threatens everyone on the road. The latest report shows Island County ranks second highest in DUI fatality rate increase (1999-2003 vs 2004-2008) in Washington, at 265.5 percent. “A sad and shocking distinction when 20 of 39 counties have shown a decrease in the previous 5 years,” Hellmann said.

“It’s hard to measure what doesn’t happen,” she added. “It’s very likely that increase in the DUI rate would be even higher without the many people Dr. Bishop has reached with his memorable presentations. As someone wrote at the very first panel he spoke: ‘The panel was very moving – sobering. The coroner deserves a special place in heaven.’”

“I strongly believe there are very likely folks still here on earth because of his great DUI prevention efforts,” Hellmann said.

IDIPIC is a network of concerned individuals dedicated to its mission to deter driving under the influence and underage drinking in our communities through education and awareness. The 501c3 non-profit formed in early 2000 by residents who saw the need to combine correction with prevention to reduce the number of DUI motorists and underage drinkers on Whidbey and Camano. A year after it started its “creative sentencing” panels, IDIPIC began working with youth as well and now has prevention programs in nearly all local public schools.

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