State briefs

Authorities urge people to keep pets leashed near icy ponds

HAMILTON (AP) — Authorities in southwest Ohio are urging people to keep pets leashed near icy ponds and warning against going in after them.

The Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News ( ) reports the warning comes after a recent series of rescues of people and dogs. Firefighters in Butler and Warren counties have been called to rescue people and their pets from icy waters at least three times over the past week.

Butler County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Rick Bucheit says everyone who was pulled from the water survived. He says that doesn’t lower the risk of going in water during the winter.

Bucheit says people should never try to enter the water, even to rescue a person or animal. Instead, he says they should call 911 and try to find an object to reach into the water.

Ohio’s Medicare counseling programs tops national rankings

COLUMBUS — An Ohio program designed to help Medicare beneficiaries understand complex health care benefits and options has been named the best of its kind in the nation.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rankings being released Thursday show the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program scored best over 54 similar programs in other states and territories. Ohio’s program was ranked last four years ago.

Lt. Governor and Insurance Director Mary Taylor credited “sheer dedication” by program staff for the improvements. Programs were scored on consumer engagement, enrollment support and six other criteria.

The Ohio program provides free health-benefit counseling to Medicare beneficiaries, families and caregivers. About 375,000 Ohioans on Medicare used its educational and counseling services last year and the program hosted 1,700 public events across Ohio.

Hundreds gather to address Ohio drug addiction epidemic

COLUMBUS — Hundreds of police officers, community officials, medical personnel and others have gathered in Columbus for a summit aimed at fighting Ohio’s drug addiction epidemic.

The one-day meeting called by Attorney General Mike DeWine focused on programs being used successfully around the state to slow the epidemic and help its victims.

The topics Thursday included treating drug overdose scenes as crime scenes, using an anti-overdose drug to save lives, addressing addiction in jails, keeping addicts from doctor shopping and reaching out to overdose survivors once they’re back home.

A record 2,482 people in Ohio died from accidental overdoses in 2014, an 18 percent increase over the previous year. That includes a record 1,177 overdose deaths related to heroin, up from 986 in 2013.

Sheriffs, police chiefs help with Ohio standards compliance

COLUMBUS — The state says Ohio sheriffs and police chiefs are on board to help law enforcement agencies statewide comply with first-ever standards for use of deadly force.

The standard adopted last year would permit police to use deadly force only when officers are defending themselves or other people from serious injury or death.

The Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board also adopted a new statewide standard for police recruiting and hiring.

The Department of Public Safety on Friday announced a partnership with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to assist agencies adopting the standards.

Agencies must adopt the standards as minimum policies by March 2017 to be included on a list of departments that fully implemented the standards.

Zoo euthanizes cheetah

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Zoo says a 15-year-old cheetah once featured on a National Geographic special has been euthanized.

The zoo’s veterinary staff euthanized Sahara on Wednesday, citing a diminishing quality of life. The average lifespan for cheetahs is eight to 12 years.

Sahara ran 100 meters in 5.95 seconds during a National Geographic special in 2012 and reached a top speed of 61 mph. That’s 3 seconds faster than the human record held by Usain Bolt of Jamaica.

She also visited schools and raised awareness about the endangered species. The zoo says the population has shrunk to approximately 9,000 worldwide.

Sahara was brought to be Cincinnati when she was 6 weeks old and was raised alongside an Anatolian shepherd puppy named Alexa.

Overdose antidote given more than 12,600 times

COLUMBUS — Ohio Department of Public Safety records indicate a drug overdose antidote that can help save addicts on the brink of death was administered more than 12,600 times around the state last year.

Naloxone blocks brain receptors, immediately pulling people out of a potentially fatal overdose.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill last year expanding availability of the drug. It let doctors authorize individuals to hand out a drug overdose antidote to addicts, their friends and family members without requiring a prescription.

Fatal drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio, above car crashes.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl says his agency has seen a five-fold increase in overdoses emergency calls handled by police and fire emergency personnel since 2010.