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Ohio announces $35M in retention incentives for first responders

The $35 million will go to more than 10,000 law enforcement officers, EMS personnel and firefighters from 309 agencies

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By Sarah Roebuck

COLOMBUS, Ohio — In an effort to help counter various pressing issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that thousands of first responders throughout the state will receive retention incentives.

More than 10,000 law enforcement officers, EMS personnel and firefighters from 309 agencies will receive a total of around $35 million in retention incentives. It’s part of the Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention and Resilience Program, which was created to address first responder burnout caused by understaffing and overall job stress.

“In Ohio, we value our first responders and know that the work they do is essential,” DeWine said in a statement. “Our goal through this program is to ensure that our firefighters, EMTs, and law enforcement officers have the support and resources they need for their personal wellbeing and in their professional lives.”

Around $100 million has been awarded to emergency response agencies throughout Ohio since the program launched in 2022. The Ohio Emergency Management Agency provides funding to support initiatives such as recruitment and retention efforts to restore workforce levels; onboarding and training costs; and explorer programs to teach young adults about careers as first responders.

To date, the total funding includes around $1.3 million for several statewide service providers.

The funding for the program comes from a portion of the $250 million that the American Rescue Plan Act provided. This funding, allocated by DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly, is dedicated to assisting first responders. It aims to address the multitude of urgent problems intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as heightened stress and reduced staffing levels.