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Need finds solution through community partnership


Trish Bennett, Editor

A community partnership is considered a win-win situation for Box65 and Ohio Christian University’s Emergency & Disaster Management program. (Photo by Trish Bennett)

CIRCLEVILLE – Where there is a need, there is a solution, and Box65 recently found one through a community partnership with Ohio Christian University.

Box65, the scene support unit for local fire departments, has found a new home with OCU after having to vacate its previous digs at Circleville Station 2. Its base of operations is now in the OCU Service Center on North Court Street near Bell Station Road.

The partnership came through contact with Thad Hicks, director of the Emergency & Disaster Management program at OCU. Hicks said he was approaching university administration about acquiring the extra space for his own program about the same time Box65 announced they were seeking a new location.

“We had two bays up there, and I didn’t need all the space,” Hicks said. “So I approached the administration and said we’ve got this community partner we’ve been working with, and I’d like to offer it to them.”

Hicks said OCU was immediately receptive to the idea and offered the space rent-free to the organization that has worked well in the past with the Emergency & Disaster Management program.

“It’s one of the things our president (Dr. Mark Smith) pushes for,” Hicks said. “For the longest time, people didn’t even know the college existed out there, because it wasn’t overly involved in the community. Dr. Smith is on us constantly to plug in and do things that will be of use to the community.”

Box65 has now completely vacated Station 2 on South Court Street and has been working about two weeks to get organized and settled into its new location, according to member Mark Adkins.

“We’re in good shape, and we’re definitely going to make it work with Thad and the Disaster program,” Adkins said. “We’re right off Route 23 up here like we were on the south end, so as far as responding to calls, our response time shouldn’t be much of a difference.”

Adkins said Box65 had a number of private citizens reach out with offers of a new location after city officials announced their intention to reopen Station 2 as a working fire station. The decision, intended to improve response times for the fire department with increasing train traffic through the city, left the all-volunteer unit without a home for the first time in its nearly six-year history.

“We had a number of people who came forward with some places, but they just didn’t work out,” Adkins said. “The city even offered the industrial arts building at the old Everts Middle School, but after we started looking at it, it didn’t fit what we needed because the resources just weren’t there in the building.”

Adkins said the new facility has all the water, utilities and other resources necessary for the organization, and it has the added advantage of allowing them to work more closely with the Emergency & Disaster Management program at OCU.

“We both have different resources and different goals, but there are a lot of situations when we can work together,” Adkins said.

Adkins and Hicks both cited the Rhoden family murder investigation in Pike County as an example of their overlapping missions. OCU’s Emergency & Disaster Management program provides hands-on experience for students to respond to natural disasters and other emergency situations, while Box65’s mission is to aid first responders at emergency scenes.

“We both have different resources, but when Thad had the OCU truck going down there, they contacted us to help gather food and other supplies to help at the scene,” Adkins said. “It freed up our personnel and trucks to stay up here locally, and they went down there to feed the first responders.”

Hicks said Box65 was able to acquire pizzas, chicken dinners and other donated food and supplies for that operation.

“It’s also a good outlet for my students,” Hicks said. “Some are going to be doing this as a career, and Box65 is a good way to put them in real-life circumstances that we’re learning about in class. It’s a good fit.”

This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal