Photo courtesy of Flyer News.
Lucy Waskiewicz | Contributing Writer
The University of Dayton’s student-run Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organization won first place in Light Ohio Blue’s annual photography competition, which concluded in late September.
Light Ohio Blue is a statewide campaign to recognize and support law enforcement and emergency services personnel. During its yearly First Responder Photo Challenge, first responder organizations like police departments, fire stations, and emergency medical services can submit photos of their vehicles to be voted on by the public.
UD EMS’s photo topped the competition in the challenge’s Fire/EMS Category 3, which ranked 17 volunteer fire and emergency service organizations across Ohio. The photo scored 1,005 votes, edging out the second-place contender, McDonald Fire Department, by only 95 votes.
UD EMS Chief Hayley Rodeffer said winning such a close race was exciting– especially on behalf of the UD community.
“It was very tight in the final days and I don’t think I’ve ever checked a website more frequently than I did on the last day of the competition,” Rodeffer said. “Finding out that we won was such a great experience not only because we got to celebrate our organization, but because we got to represent the University of Dayton in front of the entire state of Ohio.”
The photo submitted by UD EMS was taken by its public and alumni relations officer, Kate Sebastian. It depicts the organization’s ambulance posed against the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.
“We thought a photo of our hard-working medic in front of our beloved chapel was a great fit for this statewide contest,” said Jill Tore, UD EMS Assistant Chief of Personnel. “It felt like a visual representation of the sense of community and values that are so abundantly prominent here at UD and in UD EMS.”
This was the first time UD EMS entered the First Responder Photo Challenge. Tore said that as a student-run university organization, the win was exceptionally significant.
“It was very uplifting to see a student-run organization receive this much recognition on the state level as there are many qualified and strong volunteer emergency medical service organizations in Ohio,” she said.
The competition opened on Sept. 11, 2022, in honor of the first responders serving during the attacks of 9/1. The public had until Sept. 30 to vote on their favorite photos in seven categories, which were based on each organization’s department and their local population. Most of UD EMS’ competitors were volunteer fire and rescue departments ranging across Ohio.
Tore said the support from the UD community was a major factor in helping UD EMS beat the competition.
“We had people voting every single day for the month that the contest was open, sharing the link on their social media, telling their friends and families, and using many other ways to spread the word about UD EMS’s participation in Light Ohio Blue,” she said. “I think this win goes to show the dedication of those who are involved with or support UD EMS.”
Following the win, representatives of UD EMS attended the commemorative Light Ohio Blue ceremony at First Responder Park in Hilliard, OH. They received a plaque and honorary print of their winning photo and were able to meet other first responders from across the state.
The First Responder Photo Challenge is just one aspect of the Light Ohio Blue campaign. For one week each May, Light Ohio Blue encourages Ohio residents and commercial property owners to use blue lighting on their home and building exteriors to honor law enforcement personnel, especially those who have died in the line of duty.
“Light Ohio Blue creates a way for people from across the state to come together and show support for those that dedicate themselves to a life of service,” Rodeffer said. “It’s a great program and I am honored that UD EMS had the opportunity to engage our community in supporting law enforcement and first responders this year.”
Visit the UD EMS website to learn more about the organization.
Visit the Light Ohio Blue website to view the rest of the 2022 First Responder Photo Challenge winners.