Governor DeWine Increases Wellness Support for Ohio's First Responders by $20 Million
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced today that an additional $20 million will be dedicated to supporting the recruitment and wellness needs of Ohio's first responders.
Today's announcement brings the total amount of funding for the Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program to $95 million. Governor DeWine created the program in May 2022 to support the wellness needs of law enforcement officers, dispatchers, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs).
"When it comes to public safety, we don't want our police officers, firefighters, and medics to be overworked and exhausted when they're responding to emergencies," said Governor DeWine. "Through this program, we're not only helping local first responders get support for their mental wellbeing, but we're also helping to ease the workload on current staff by funding new hires."
Out of the $95 million, a total of $61 million has been awarded to 237 first responder agencies to date. This total includes $11.9 million for 29 agencies announced today as part of the grant program's sixth round. Grant awards for the remaining $34 million will be announced in the coming months.
SUMMARIES: Wellness Grant Awards Round 6
The Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience 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 $95 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.
MORE: Wellness Grant Awards by County (Rounds 1-6)
The Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program is administered by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and funded as part of the $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that Ohio dedicated to first responders to help counter various pressing issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The additional $20 million committed to the program today was initially part of the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program, also funded through ARPA, which has now awarded funding to every law enforcement agency that requested a grant for a qualifying violent crime reduction initiative.
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.
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.