Coroner named Health Care Hero for 2013

Island County Coroner Robert Bishop hangs up a plaque from IDIPIC. - Contributed photo
Island County Coroner Robert Bishop hangs up a plaque from IDIPIC.
— image credit: Contributed photo

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

The award was given for what the board said was Bishop’s commitment to the Impaired Driving Impact Panel of Island County, known as IDIPIC, and contributions to the health and well-being of Island County citizens.

As Island County coroner, 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 the program began in 2000.

“He’s helped educate over 10,000 people in our communities with great conviction and compassion,” said IDIPIC Director JoAnn Hellmann.

“As he says in these presentations “This is not a natural phenomena, it is a man-made situation and can be solved by man,’” Hellman said.

“I am just one of many that are affected by each fatal impaired driving incident.”

Through the years, Bishop has spoken while on 39 DUI prevention panels in Oak Harbor, Coupeville and at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. That totals more than 200 hours in planning, preparation and presentation.

Impact panel attendees have included DUI and minor in possession offenders, driver’s education students, their parents, and Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and tenant command personnel at safety training panels, prospective speakers and general public.

This is nearly half of the more than 25,000 IDIPIC has reached with just its panels in the last 13 years, according to the organization’s statistics.

Bishop also served as IDIPIC president and vice-president.

In late January, he drove more 200 miles round-trip to videotape a young DUI offender in prison and prepare the DVD to show at panel.

The prisoner will be unable to speak on panel until after her incarceration ends in 2017 for the crash that caused the deaths of three young men on Whidbey Island.

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.

DUI threatens everyone on the road, according to IDIPIC.

The latest report shows Island County ranks second highest in DUI fatality rate increase, in the years 1999 to 2003 versus 2004 to 2008, in the state: 265.5 percent. By comparison, 20 of 39 counties have shown a decrease in the previous five years.

“It’s hard to measure what doesn’t happen. It’s very likely the increase in the DUI rate noted above would be even higher without the many people Dr. Bishop has reached with his memorable presentations,” Hellmann said.

“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 added.

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.

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