SIDNEY — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine visited the Sidney Department of Fire and Emergency Services Station No. 1 Friday, Oct. 14, as part of a tour of stations in Ohio for Fire Prevention Week and to learn more about how the department is prioritizing the physical and mental wellness of the men and women on the job in Sidney.
DeWine chose to tour some of the firehouses in Ohio due to being so involved in the various departments during the time he spent as a congressman and as a senator and being one of the main sponsors of the Fire Act which continues to provide funds to local fire departments.
Before touring the station, Fire Chief Chad Hollinger and Deputy Chief Dallas Davis spoke a little bit about the department and the work they do in the community for fire prevention. Hollinger explained the history of the department and the beginning of fire engines in Sidney. After a breakdown of the department’s history from Hollinger, Davis stepped in to focus on the work of the Fire Prevention Division. The Fire Prevention Division focuses on educating both kids and adults on various methods to prevent a fire or to stay safe in the event of a fire. Other than education, Davis informed DeWine of the work his division does to inspect schools and businesses for fire safety and to investigate after a fire to help determine the cause and hopefully prevent a similar fire from happening again.
Hollinger and Davis then took DeWine and his grandchildren on a tour of the entire station including the weight room, kitchen, bunk rooms and fire bay. Included in the tour were some of the station’s newer wellness amenities to help EMS workers and firefighters avoid injuries and take care of themselves on the job including an athletic trainer who is at the station three days a week to help take care of any minor injuries that might occur on the job and a mechanized system to help EMS load gurneys and patients into the ambulance without risking injury. The station also has a new alarm system that will start off the notifications of an emergency quietly and slowly rise in volume to wake up the firefighters and EMS crew without startling them awake and potentially causing disorientation.
“We’re concerned about the safety and health of the men and women who do this every single day. We took some of the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) dollars for a grant for different departments for wellness,” said DeWine.
DeWine also noted the departments typically use worker’s compensation to help employees in the event of an injury, but that he would like to focus more on the prevention of injury by using worker’s compensation to purchase items like the lift for transferring patients in and out of an ambulance.
While the grant money for wellness is being used to keep the men and women of the department physically safe with extra gear, an athletic trainer for injuries and new tools to help them avoid injury on the job, Hollinger also believes it is important to prioritize the mental well-being of those in his department.
DeWine asked Hollinger for his thoughts on how worker’s compensation can continue to help keeping the men and women working under the chief safe. Hollinger hopes to continue to use the funding to focus more on the mental health of his team. One thing Hollinger noted was the growing need to address the emotional component of the job and the toll this line of work can have on someone’s mental health.
“We just want these young people joining the service to know that you don’t have to struggle the way we have in the past,” said Hollinger.