PIQUA — Ohio’s safety service personnel have a new resource for care after a critical incident.
Lt. Steven M. Click, of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, outlined the program during a meeting Friday of the Governor’s Community Traffic Safety Network of Shelby County.
The group met in the offices of the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Piqua. The meeting was conducted by Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst.
Click discussed Ohio ASSIST, a program for aiding safety services with incident survivor techniques. Developed in South Carolina, it uses three-day seminars to help responders get over the trauma of critical incidents. Ohio is one of six states to have implemented the techniques.
The seminars comprise story-telling about incidents, work with clinicians who understand public safety, a voluntary prayer service and group sessions to deal with fears, relationships and addiction. The workshops are open not only to service personnel but also to attendees’ support people: wives or other family members or friends.
“There is no cost to the officer, the agency or the support person,” Click said. An agency can decide whether or not to pay a participant while he attends.
“We believe we’re sending them back, better,” Click said. He shared anecdotes about police, fire and corrections personnel who participated in the first seminar in Ohio in March and in others in South Carolina and Texas.
“This does not take the place of any local peer support program and it’s not about laying the groundwork for a disability claim,” he noted.
The project is funded by donations. Click is on the Department of Public Safety payroll as are two other ASSIST members, but no public money goes into the seminars, which can each enroll 35 people at a cost of about $35,000 per seminar. The next Ohio one is already fully booked; however, Click said that if agencies want to cover transportation to seminars in other states, he can help with registrations.
In other business, Friday, the group discussed the ongoing and continually escalating heroin epidemic in Shelby County.
Sidney Police Capt. Bill Shoemaker reported that his department has administered naloxone, known by its brand name of Narcan, 219 times since Jan. 1. It was used 171 times during the entire year of 2016.
Sidney Fire Chief Bradley Jones noted that it is sad to return to any given residence time and time again to save a chronic user.
“We can’t jsut keep showing up at ‘Mr. Smith’s’ house over and over again. We have to get him into treatment, but I don’t have the budget to help. But I don’t agree with what you read in the paper to stop going. They don’t see the 5-year-old crying because dad or uncle is sick again,” he said.
Shoemaker cited a law that for a first offense, a user can’t be charged if he goes to counseling within 30 days. Botkins Police Chief Wayne T. Glass Jr. noted that some synthetic drugs can’t be traced.
“With a grand jury, you have to prove what it is,” he said. State labs have a six- to seven-month backlog of case evidence to process.
Sgt. Ross Reed, of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Piqua post, said there will be checkpoint along state Route 47 in Sidney this weekend. He also reported that OSHP has started more patrols in Shelby County because the number of fatal accidents has increased.
New traffic lights
Jeff Marshall, transportation manager of the Ohio Department of Transportation, discussed road-paving and traffic light projects.
New traffic lights will be installed in August at the ramps leading to Interstate 75 at it’s intersection with state Route 29, near Lehman Catholic High School.
As soon as paving is complete in Sidney, crews will begin work on state Route 274 from mile marker 0 near Minster for 1.2 miles and from the 9 to 11 mile markers. They will also repave a 3/4-mile stretch of state Route 219 beginning at the 0 mile marker.
Reed reported that the highway patrol has responded to two more traffic accidents in 2017 than for the same period — Jan. 1 to July 17 — in 2016. There have been 71 more enforcement stops, an increase of 5 percent. Felony arrests by the patrol have increased by 43 percent, from 7 during 2016 to 10 this year. Drug violations jumped by double digits, from 33 to 44.
Shoemaker’s report indicated that the number of accidents between Jan. 1 and July 1 in each year was the same: 349. There was one fatality during that period in each year. Calls for service increased by 9.6 percent, from 13,628 in 2016 to 14,934 this year.
Jones noted that there have been 197 service calls in Sidney by the fire department in 2017, up from 122 for the same period in 2016. Township calls increased from 7 in 2016 to 12 in 2017. Total fire calls for all incidents, including false alarms and mutual aid calls, have numbered 556 so far in 2017. There had been 441 calls in 2016 by July 1. To date, city emergency services calls are down from last year: 1,311 in 2017; 1,352 in 2016.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.