Shawnee Optimists name ‘Officer of the Year’


Megan Kennedy | The Lima News Mark Biedenharn was named the Shawnee Optimist Club’s ‘Officer of the Year’ during the club’s meeting Wednesday afternoon. He has been with the Fire Department for 19 years.

LIMA — The television show ‘Emergency!’ inspired a young Mark Biedenharn to become a public servant as a child.

The Shawnee Township Firefighter fulfilled his childhood dream right after high school when he joined the Elida Fire Department in 1980. He would later transfer to the Shawnee Fire Department.

Now, 19 years after he joined the Shawnee Township squad, he’s been recognized for his achievements.

The Shawnee Optimist Club awarded Biedenharn an “Officer of the Year” award on Wednesday at the club’s meeting, saying firefighters are included in the honor.

He is “deserving of this award due to his many years of dedication for not only responding to calls for Shawnee Township citizens, but also overseeing our training division, allowing us to be accredited as a training institution,” said Fire Chief Todd Truesdale, a Shawnee Optimist member.

Through the help of Biedenharn’s work, the Fire Department is able to meet the state-sanctioned standards, Truesdale said. In each audit of the department, which occurs every three years, the Fire Department has never had a deficiency noted and the internal trainings are marked “exceptional,” he said.

The job is “absolutely” what Biedenharn though it would be, he said.

“There’s times where it gets to you, but you’ve got the other guys to talk to and work things out over stressful events,” he said.

Biedenharn said he hopes he’s made a difference at the Fire Department, but most importantly, the community.

“With all the outside training that we do … hopefully even if we get to save at least one person by CPR [and other training], it’s all worth it,” he said.

Though he’s humbled over his recognition, Biedenharn said the Fire Department works as a team and the whole department should be recognized as well.

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