Local leader of coronavirus fight wins special Ohio designation

Mark Mignery, the Hamilton Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Service coordinator and a leader of the local battle in the coronavirus pandemic, has earned a historic designation in Ohio, officials said.

Mignery, who has worked with city and county health officials to ramp up the department’s safety measures to protect patients and firefighters from COVID-19, along with Assistant Chief Tom Eichelberger, became the state’s first EMS coordinator to receive the “Ohio Fire Chief” credential from the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association.

Mignery, who heads the fire department’s EMS Bureau, works with the department’s deputy chiefs to coordinate work of the department’s approximately 85 firefighter paramedics and 15 emergency medical technicians.

Among other responsibilities that have increased for Mignery with the coronavirus pandemic are more vigilant paramedic protocols in such matters as sterilizing ambulances between patient runs, tracking paramedics’ exposures and obtaining personal protective equipment.

“To our knowledge, none of our folks have contracted COVID-19, so that’s a good thing,” Mignery said. Firefighters have been quarantined as precautions, but so far, the results have been good. The department makes about 13,000 medical runs per year.

“The Ohio fire chiefs’ designation is one that is typically, and up until now, completely reserved for people with the title of ‘chief’ in their job title,” said Hamilton Fire Chief Mark Mercer.

Michelle Fitzgibbon, executive director of the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association, agreed, saying all others have been assistant chiefs, deputy chiefs or battalion chiefs. There was a single “EMS chief,” she said.

Mignery, 40, is a father of seven, ages 9 months to 15, and thanked his wife, Alison Mignery, as well as Mercer and top city administrators.

Mignery’s advice for people amid the virus crisis: “Wear your masks, social distance, and a lot of people worry about the health of folks — I think that’s what this is mainly focused on, is the physical health.”

“I would just suggest there’s a lot of aspects to the whole being,” he said. “Certainly there are family health, there is emotional health, spiritual health, religious health, financial health…. We want people to stay healthy physically, but at the same time, we kind of need to get back to some sort of a normal life, while taking precautions.”

“We need to be respectful of each other, wear masks, socially distance, maybe not do as much hand-shaking, and try to get back to life a little bit,” he said.

Under the city’s labor contract with the firefighters’ union Mignery’s post will become an assistant-chief position when he leaves or retires, but the next person to hold it will not necessarily achieve the association’s rank, Mercer said.

“It speaks more to who he is than what his job title is,” Mercer said. “For us, we’re really proud that he’s been able to take that initiative and earn that.”

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