(Posted Feb. 23, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Following the retirement of Chief Robert Olwin, the Madison County Emergency Medical District has streamlined its administrative structure.
Rather than replace Olwin with another full-time chief, the EMD board opted to reduce the job to a part-time position and hired Brian Bennington to fill it.
Bennington has served as chief of the Central Townships Joint Fire District for 14 years. Two years ago, the EMD moved its headquarters into the fire district’s main station at 91 State Rte. 56. The two entities have been sharing space ever since. Bennington now wears two hats–those of fire chief and EMD chief.
“I already had a working relationship on a day-to-day basis with the personnel, and Chief Olwin and I worked well together. So, it’s not that big a difference–just a different name on the door,” said Bennington.
Olwin retired on Feb. 5 after nearly 8.5 years as EMD chief. Bennington took over on Feb. 6.
“Three EMS lieutenants are still handling their respective shifts on an operational basis, and I am handling the administrative stuff–payroll, scheduling, union contracts, questions and concerns from the public,” Bennington explained.
The savings resulting from the reduction of the chief position to part-time will go back into the department. Bennington said the department is looking at purchasing a new EMS vehicle soon. Two of the medics in the fleet are due for replacement.
While Bennington is overseeing both the fire district and the EMD, the two outfits remain separate entities.
“I feel that having fire and EMS separate is important so that people can concentrate on just one portion of the job versus spending half their time on one and half their time on the other,” he said. “I think the public gets a better fire provider and better EMS provider that way.”
Bennington praised Olwin for the work he did to establish a second EMD station in Summerford. Prior to the district’s split from the city of London, the EMD operated just one station, which was located on Center Street in London.
“We have spread our services out. The more we have our trucks spread out, the quicker we can get to our citizens. That was (Olwin’s) goal,” Bennington said.
The fire and EMD districts serve six townships: Deer Creek, Monroe, Oak Run, Paint, Union and Somerford.
In addition to setting up the Summerford station, Olwin counts among his achievements as EMD chief the improvement of the EMS building at the Madison County Fairgrounds.
Olwin started his career in emergency response in 1985 as a volunteer fire fighter. He went on to serve as the fire/EMS chief for Silvercreek Township in Greene County before taking the helm at Madison County EMD. He spent a total of 35 years in the fire/EMS field.
Since retiring earlier this month, Olwin has indulged his passion for diving with two trips to the Caribbean. A few weeks ago, he registered his 500th dive.
Olwin began diving in 2015 and has been teaching scuba lessons for Columbus Scuba for the past 1.5 years. He also will begin teaching fire classes at Tolles Career and Technical Center in Plain City this spring.