CIRCLEVILLE—The Pickaway County Board of Commissioners and the Paint Valley ADAMH Board are honoring first responders this week.
The commissioners issued a proclamation on Tuesday that designates April 9 through April 13 as First Responder Appreciation Week in Pickaway County. Commissioner Brian Stewart said the effort was a way to show gratitude to those on the front lines.
“We know there are issues with drug abuse in this community just like there are in every community throughout the state, and we think it’s important to show gratitude to the first responders, folks that are literally on the front line responding to those calls day in and day out,” he said. “It’s tough work for them and it’s a tough thing to take home at the end of the day. We appreciate them for what they do.”
Penny Dehner, executive director of the Paint Valley ADAMH Board, said it’s important to make sure first responders—such as police, firefighters, paramedics and dispatchers—receive some much-earned recognition.
“We sponsored the Day of Appreciation because we see every day the difficulty and pain so many of our front-line fighters face as they work to help individuals in need,” Dehner said. “The positive impact that recovery from addiction can have on individuals, families, job growth, community safety, and overall economic development cannot be overstated.”
Dehner said the goal for the week is to show support for police, fire and paramedic efforts to combat drug addiction and the opioid crisis in Ohio.
“We’ve been at this for quite a while, and you hear about it all the time,” she said. “I got a small grant to recognize our first responders. I could simply not comprehend what they face day in and day out.”
The commissioners’ proclamation read:
“The Pickaway County Commissioners pledge our support for the individuals, family members and professionals throughout our community who are bringing help and bring hope by working day in and day out to save lives, provide treatment, assist families and support recovery in Pickaway County and hereby appreciates and thanks our first responders for their service.
Dehner said as a “thank you,” the ADAMH Board delivered pizza to the different county departments, plus all county first responders will receive a certificate of recognition from the Ohio Attorney General.
ADAMH also plans to offer mental health services to help first responders cope with the serious issues they encounter each day.
“When we think of a thank you, pizza seems a little hollow,” she said. “When the real crux of it is, they’re faced with it day in and day out, I worry about the secondary trauma they face. So we’ll be having a secondary-trauma informed training to help them take care of themselves.”
Dehner said she plans to invite all first responders to that training on May 9 at the Ross County Service Center and a second will be held May 30 at Southern State Community College in Washington Court House.
“We’ve been dealing with [the opioid crisis] for a long time and it has got to be wearing on them, so I wanted to thank them and provide them with some coping mechanisms,” Dehner said.
“It’s not easy seeing the same people over and over again,” she said of the opioid patients. “It’s bad enough to have to respond all the time in a crisis but when it’s the same crisis with the same people, they can feel downtrodden and like they’re not making a difference. They lose sight that they are making a difference. They are saving lives.”