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Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has announced the first round of funding to be awarded to local first responder agencies as part of the new Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program.

A total of 26 agencies, including the Delaware Police Department, will receive $1.67 million to help them support the wellness needs of law enforcement officers, dispatchers, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

“Our first responders face the daily challenge of providing the highest level of response and care to Ohioans during traumatic circumstances, having little to no time to effectively process the stress brought on by these situations,” said Governor DeWine. “We created this grant program to help our first responders take care of themselves so that they can continue taking care of others.”

The City of Delaware Police Department is receiving $34,800 for annual mental wellness checks.

The Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program, administered by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, is offering a total of approximately $75 million in 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. Although this is the first round of funding to be awarded to local first responder agencies as part of this program, approximately $1.3 million 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 Governor 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.

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.

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