Township may play larger role in police unit

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By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

When the Grove City Division of Police deploys its Strategic Response Team (SRT) to a volatile situation, chances are the Jackson Township Fire Department will be found nearby.

“The fire department has always been involved when the SRT is deployed, but they are staged away from the scene and on standby until the situation is stable,” said Police Chief Richard Butsko.

A recent proposal from the division, however, could see the fire department personnel having a more active role in the initial emergency response.

At the Jan. 22 township meeting, Fire Chief Randy Little reported to the board of trustees that the division has requested three paramedics, or one for each unit, be made available to the strategic response team.

“They would be an unarmed part of the team,” he told the trustees in the caucus session.

According to Little, the paramedics would be completely outfitted with tactical gear, fully trained, and would primarily serve in the role of rendering live-saving aide immediately.

“In my research, I have seen a number of studies that show there is a significant increase in survivability if a medic is a part of the response team,” he said.

Trustee David Burris said that while he supports providing aid to law enforcement officers, he is uncomfortable with the unarmed aspect of the paramedic’s role.

“I don’t want to make light of protecting our police because that it vital, but I don’t feel comfortable having our paramedics go into a situation like that unarmed,” he said.

He told Little to proceed in the talks with Butsko and the division, but requested he do more research about the unarmed aspect, the cost of training, and possible complications with the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation.

“We just need a lot more information about this,” said Burris.

For his part, Butsko said the request for paramedics to join the SRT is not a “revolutionary idea,”

“It’s a relatively standard procedure,” he said. “We just wanted to reach out and explore the idea.”

Butsko said he looks forward to further engagement with the fire department.

In other news, Township Administrator Shane Farnsworth reported that 50 residents are being investigated for zoning violations, most of which are junk cars and debris, he said.
Farnsworth said a piece of good news is that he is working with a majority of the zoning violators to bring them “back into compliance.”

“Most of them are doing their part,” he said.

Also at the meeting, the board praised the job the road department has done in clearing the roads during inclement weather.

“Our roads look better than anybody,” said trustee Jim Rauck.

“They did an outstanding job,” added Burris.

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