COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine  announced the creation of a new division within the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Office of Criminal Justice Services  that will focus exclusively on the well-being of Ohio’s first responders.

According to a release, the new Ohio Office of First Responder Wellness will work to encourage self-care and mental wellness for Ohio’s first responder community, including law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, dispatch, corrections, and Ohio-based military. The office will provide specialized support and training to help emergency-response agencies proactively address post-traumatic stress and other traumas caused by factors unique to first-responder careers.

“First responders are truly public servants who put the well-being of others in front of themselves.  Unfortunately, the stress of constantly responding to terrible situations like murder scenes, house fires, and tragic accidents can take a toll on the mental, emotional, and physical health of these heroes,” said Governor DeWine. “By creating this new office within the Ohio Department of Public Safety, we’re creating a centralized resource to help our police and fire departments, EMS units, and other first-responder agencies actively place an ongoing focus on wellness with assistance from those who’ve faced some of the same unique on-the-job stress.”

Steven M. Click, who served 36 years with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and oversaw their Member Assistance Team from 2002 to 2018, will serve as the director of the Ohio Office of First Responder Wellness.

“We are thrilled to have Steve lead our work to help first responders deal with the daily stress and pressure of their jobs,” said Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Tom Stickrath. “Maintaining proper mental, physical, and emotional health is critical for them to continue what they do.” .

“I am excited to lead the new Ohio Office of First Responder Wellness, which will serve as a resource for all of Ohio’s first responders,” said Click. “My goal as director is to help bridge the gap between first responders, their local agencies, and a variety of wellness resources.”

The Ohio Office of First Responder Wellness will partner with local and state mental health agencies, including the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, to offer resources to first-responder entities across the state.