(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has announced that 72 local first responder agencies will receive a total of $28 million to help support the wellness and staffing needs of Ohio’s first responders.
The grants represent the fifth round of the Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program. To date, Governor DeWine has awarded $49 million to 219 Ohio agencies as part of this program, which aims to address burnout caused by understaffing and overall job stress.
The Perry Port Salem Ambulance District in Shelby County will receive $337,284.78 to hire 3.5 fulltime emergency medical responders.
“We’ve had a great deal of interest in this grant program, and it’s good to see that so many first responder agencies prioritize employee wellness,” said DeWine. “These grants provide agency-specific support to help first responders remain on the job so that they can continue to keep Ohioans safe.”
A total of approximately $75 million will be awarded to law enforcement agencies, dispatch centers, fire departments, and emergency medical services agencies as part of the program.
The Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program is administered by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. The program awards 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. The $75 million in funding to be awarded as part of the program includes approximately $1.3 million that was awarded to several statewide service providers in June.
The program is funded as part of the $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) 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 Governor 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.