Sidney Police, Wilson Health featured in national magazine

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

SIDNEY — A partnership between Wilson Health and the Sidney Police Department (SPD) has been profiled in a national trade publication.

The May issue of PoliceChief magazine includes an article by Woody Goffinett about the police department’s use of athletic trainer (AT) services.

Goffinett is the manager of sports medicine at Wilson Health, which has funded his work for the police.

“Woody approached our department several years ago, asking about coming onto the tactical team. He wanted to start athletic training for first responders,” said SPD Chief Will Balling.

Pairing athletic trainers with police and firefighters is rather a new idea. Some big city departments have instigated it. But Sidney made an interesting case study for the article because it’s a small city.

“Athletic training has been around since the 1960s, getting athletes back on the field quickly,” Goffinett said. “(The article) is creating the opportunity to get the voice of the role of the athletic trainer in public safety out there. Even in a small department, we can be forward-thinking in the health and wellness of officers.”

The PoliceChief article details cost savings that the partnership has enabled. Those savings in 2016 exceeded $120,000.

“Wilson and Woody have established an AT room here at the police department,” Balling said. Goffinett is at the station on a part-time basis. The partners split the cost of supplies.

Goffinett wrote the story and sent it to the National Athletic Trainers Association, who in turn submitted it to PoliceChief. Since its publication, the story has resulted in calls to Sidney from police departments across the U.S. who want more information about the partnership and the work of the athletic trainers and from ATs who want to know how to connect with first responders.

“We know what we’re doing is making a difference. If a small, independent hospital and a small midwest city can partner up, why can’t others?” Goffinett said.

He and Balling see it as a win-win situation. At the same time Wilson Health was looking for ways to expand its community service, the city wanted to keep its first responders healthier. The service is available to Sidney firefighters as well as police officers. Goffinett would like to equip an AT room in the fire station in the future.

“Just as athletes think, ‘Get me back on the field. I don’t want to let my teammates down,’ officers want to get back on the job. Police officers and firefighters are just like any other athletes. We call them tactical athletes. They don’t seek treatment until they really, really need it. Unlike any other profession, they rely on fellow officers to have their back and save their lives,” Goffinett said.

The PoliceChief story recounts how the AT was able to treat a Sidney police officer who was injured during physical training. The officer was back on the job two weeks sooner than the generally accepted recovery time would have it, Balling noted.

“Police work is physically and psychologically challenging,” the article says. “The availablity of an AT to provide injury evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation reduces the lost work time, helps ensure immediate and convenient treatment schedules and boosts morale by showing the additional measures the administation is taking to improve employee health and well-being.”

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.