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$1.67M awarded for first responder wellness

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced the first round of funding to be awarded to local first responder agencies as part of the new Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program.

A total of 26 agencies will receive $1.67 million to help them support the wellness needs of law enforcement officers, dispatchers, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians.

“Our first responders face the daily challenge of providing the highest level of response and care to Ohioans during traumatic circumstances, having little to no time to effectively process the stress brought on by these situations,” said DeWine. “We created this grant program to help our first responders take care of themselves so that they can continue taking care of others.”

Entities receiving grant funding as part of the first round of the Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program are as follows:

∫ Beachwood Police Department (Cuyahoga County): $29,750 for an employee assistance program and to provide access to an online wellness app for confidential support.

∫ Beavercreek Police Department (Greene County): $23,629 for a wellness program coordinator, peer support team training, and access to an online wellness app for confidential support.

∫ Bellefontaine Police Department (Logan County): $119,420 for wellness and fitness programming including nutrition consultations, physical therapy, and mental health wellness checks.

∫ Brecksville Police & Fire Departments (Cuyahoga County): $14,800 for fire department and law enforcement wellness plans.

∫ Canton Police Department (Stark County): $124,400 for employee assistance program counseling services and a dedicated wellness coordinator.

∫ Cleveland Department of Public Safety (Cuyahoga County): $310,000 to hire two therapists, provide access to an online app for confidential wellness support, and train mindfulness instructors.

Defiance County 911 Center: $25,000 to offer a health and wellness program for employees.

Delaware Police Department (Delaware County): $34,800 for annual mental wellness checks.

Eagle Joint Fire District (Trumbull County): $1,974 to give employees and their families access to up to five free professional counseling sessions per year.

Grove City Division of Police (Franklin County): $12,400 for a peer support program.

Hicksville Police Department (Defiance County): $8,300 for peer support training, access to an online wellness app, and incident stress intervention.

Huron County Sheriff’s Office: $63,172.04 to hire a wellness coordinator, offer trauma counseling, and provide access to an online app for confidential wellness support.

Logan Police Department (Hocking County): $20,293.54 to provide access to an online app that offers confidential wellness support and a wellness training module.

Lucas County Sheriff’s Office: $38,720 to provide support sessions for employees focusing on wellness and disease prevention.

Mayfield Village Police & Fire Departments (Cuyahoga County): $173,340.40 for a comprehensive mental health, wellness, and physical fitness program for fire and police.

Miami Township Fire & EMS (Clermont County): $220,000 to hire a frontline behavioral health support specialist to work with police, fire, and EMS for various services including critical incident debriefing.

Montville Township Police Department (Medina County): $13,898.75 to offer a mental health program to staff and their families focused on wellness.

Pierce Township Police Department (Clermont County): $12,537.44 to make counseling more readily accessible and for officer training specific to stress management and psychological first aid.

Pleasant Valley Joint Fire District (Union County): $45,050 for a wellness and fitness initiative focused on medical examinations, fitness, rehabilitation, and behavioral health.

Scioto County Sheriff’s Office: $272,537.24 to hire a dedicated wellness coordinator and a staff clinician.

Sheffield Village Police Department (Lorain County): $19,500 to provide access to an online wellness app and online wellness courses.

Sidney Police Department (Shelby County): $22,000 for a wellness plan for both law enforcement officers and firefighters.

Springboro Division of Police (Warren County): $11,664 for wellness checks for police department personnel.

St. Clairsville Police Department (Belmont County): $5,200 to provide access to an online wellness app that provides confidential wellness support.

Vandalia Division of Police (Montgomery County): $13,000 to provide access to a health and wellness app that provides confidential support and an online library of wellness courses.

Youngstown Police Department (Mahoning County): $36,000 to provide access to an online wellness app that provides confidential wellness support.

The Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program, administered by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, is offering a total of approximately $75 million in funding for initiatives that support wellness programs addressing mental, physical, and emotional health issues unique to first responders; recruitment and retention efforts to restore workforce levels; onboarding and training costs; and explorer programs to engage young adults about first responder careers. Although this is the first round of funding to be awarded to local first responder agencies as part of this program, approximately $1.3 million was awarded to several statewide service providers in June.

The program is funded as part of the $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding that DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly dedicated to first responders last year to help counter various pressing issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased stress and decreased staffing levels.

DeWine has also placed enhanced focus on the wellness of first responders through the creation of the Ohio Office of First Responder Wellness within the Ohio Department of Public Safety. The new statewide office focuses exclusively on the well-being of first responders and provides specialized support and training to help emergency-response agencies proactively address post-traumatic stress and other traumas caused by factors that are unique to first-responder careers.

Other assistance for first responders developed by DeWine since taking office in 2019 includes the creation of the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center, Ohio School Safety Center, Ohio Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment, Ohio Prisoner Extradition Reimbursement Program, Ohio Body-Worn Camera Grant Program, Ohio Ballistics Testing Initiative, Ohio Crime Lab Efficiency Program, Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program, Ohio Court Backlog Reduction Program, and the new eWarrant database.

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