By 1812Blockhouse; Special to 1812Blockhouse

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has announced that thousands of first responders across Ohio will receive incentives from the State in recognition of their dedication to public safety and their ongoing commitment to public service.

More than 10,000 law enforcement officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel from 309 agencies will receive a total of approximately $35 million in retention incentives as part of the Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program, which was created to address first responder burnout caused by understaffing and overall job stress. 

Two of those agencies are here in Richland County.

“In Ohio, we value our first responders and know that the work they do is essential,” said Governor DeWine. “Our goal through this program is to ensure that our firefighters, EMTs, and law enforcement officers have the support and resources they need for their personal well-being and in their professional lives.”

In total, approximately $100 million has been awarded to emergency response agencies through the Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program since its launch in 2022. The Ohio Emergency Management Agency administers the program and provides funding to support initiatives, such as 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. The funding awarded to date includes approximately $1.3 million for several statewide service providers.

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

Governor 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.

Richland County agencies receiving funds are:

Bellville Police Department – $20,019.01 – 8 first responders

Springfield Township Fire Department – $82,279.55 – 28 first responders

Source: Office of Governor DeWine; Image by Golda Falk from Pixabay

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