Ballah to retire from North Central EMS

Cary Ashby • Jul 16, 2018 at 10:00 PM

MILAN TOWNSHIP — Don Ballah is retiring effective Oct. 13 as the executive vice president and chief operating officer of North Central EMS.

“Don has been a part of North Central EMS since its inception in 1986,” said Matt Gross, CEO of Fisher-Titus Health, in making the announcement. “During his 32 years of leadership, North Central EMS has grown to provide emergency medical services to a large geographic footprint in northwest Ohio and expanding coverage to include many non-emergency services for area patients.”

Over the next several months, Ballah will be working with his staff to ensure a smooth transition to new North Central leadership.

“Thirty-three years is a long time. I want to spend time with my grandkids. We bought a mobile home and want to do some traveling,” he told the Reflector.

Ballah, a 1981 Edison High School graduate, studied in the paramedic program through Providence hospital. He started as a volunteer with the Milan Township Fire Department in 1981 and retired from there after 31 years.

On April 21, 1986, North Central EMS established its first station on Woodlawn Avenue in Norwalk.

“A month later, Milan came on board,” Ballah said. “We started with 12 people. Today we have 135 employees.”

Rick Shields, currently the director of operations, was one of the first dozen North Central employees and started as an emergency medical technician. He has worked with Ballah for more than 32 years.

“This company has been his life. He has built this company from the ground up,” said Shields, who added “it’s hard to put into words” what Ballah means to North Central EMS. 

“He definitely has a passion for it,” added Shields, who noted Ballah has always made patient care and his employees priorities. “He has always been a great mentor to me. He’s always been very fair and passionate.”

North Central EMS provides emergency and non-emergency ambulance transportation, mobile intensive care transportation, specialized care transportation, wheelchair van services, and mobile X-ray and ultrasound services. Stations are located in Milan, Norwalk, Berlin Heights, Greenwich, Bellevue, Vermilion, Port Clinton, Woodville, Sandusky and Green Springs. Ballah said the North Central coverage area now is 600 square miles.

Shields said a big step for the company happened in 1987 when North Central started offering non-emergency, inter-facility transportation because prior to that, there were no transfer services available for the tertiary care of seriously ill and injured patients.

Under Ballah’s leadership, Shield said some of the other major accomplishments have been expanding “the area we cover” and increasing the level of patient care.

“North Central EMS is a vital part of the Fisher-Titus Health System in providing life-saving care for our community and many communities in northwest Ohio,” Gross said. “We look forward to working with the outstanding team at North Central to successfully continue to meet those needs.”

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