EMS volunteer named health care worker of the year

PHOTO BY BRET NYE Dennis Hanlon stands with an emergency vehicle in the Seneca County Public Safety Building at the fairgrounds.

Dennis Hanlon, a Seneca County EMS volunteer of 31 years, was named the 2019 Albert E. Dyckes Health Care Worker of the Year by Mercy Health at a ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in the Easton Town Center in Columbus Tuesday.

Hanlon, a registered nurse who works as nursing administration shift supervisor at Mercy Health — Willard Hospital, was chosen out of 64 nominees.

As honored as he said he felt to receive the award, Hanlon was quick to praise his fellow nominees.

“The ceremony was incredible,” he said. “Kudos to everybody who was nominated there.”

Hanlon’s deferment to the other nominees matches his dedication to others exhibited by his record of service to Seneca County and the surrounding area. In addition to volunteering with the Attica-Venice-Reed Joint Ambulance District EMS, Hanlon teaches future paramedics at Vanguard-Sentinel in Tiffin and EHOVE Career Center in Milan.

“I never thought I’d be a volunteer for anything when I was younger,” he said, laughing. “I was approached by a friend of my wife’s family, Keith Lepard, and he asked me if I wanted to be an EMT, and at first I said I didn’t know.”

But Hanlon accepted the offer and his path changed from there. Thirty-one years later, he feels thankful to all of the people that helped him get to this point.

“It’s very rewarding to receive this award, but I know this award doesn’t just go to me. I think about all of the leaders and instructors I’ve had over the years, and I thank them and my family and friends,” he said.

Hanlon also has been a diver for the Seneca County Water Rescue Team for “a number of years,” he said, an additional volunteer activity he took up out of his love of scuba diving.

“I joined the water rescue team out of their need for divers. I’ve always loved scuba diving. It’s nice going out to the quarries in the area, but it’s really great to go to the ocean, too,” he said.

Hanlon said he enjoys outdoor activities when he finds the spare time such as hunting and fishing. Sunday afternoon, while listening for EMS calls at the Seneca County Public Safety building, he sat in a folding chair at the door of the garage to “enjoy the nice day,” as he put it.

Asked why Hanlon prefers to give so much of his time and effort to helping people, considering his occupation as a nurse and nursing administrator in addition to his myriad volunteering efforts, Hanlon said he liked to be able to help people at every step of the way during their most difficult times.

“As an EMT, you see people at their worst. But it’s very enjoyable to be able to get them where they need to go, to emergency if need be, and even watch them making it through rehab as a nurse and see them make it back home,” he said. “It’s really rewarding to be in a position to get to be out in the field and in the hospital.”