Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Steven Oroho (R-24) to expand workers’ compensation coverage for volunteer first responders who suffer injury or death due to the stresses of responding to traumatic events has passed the Senate Labor Committee.
Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho would expand workers’ compensation coverage for first responders. (Wikimedia Commons)
“After responding to a traumatic event, such as a car crash, our heroic public safety officials may suffer their own health emergencies due to the overwhelming stress of their jobs,” Oroho stated. “When an EMT, firefighter, or police officer leaves the scene of an emergency, they may be at increased risk of a heart attack or cardiac arrest until they have time to decompress. It’s important that we recognize the many dangers and stresses that impact the health of our first responders, and structure our Workers’ Compensation benefits to match their needs.”
In 2016, Scott Danielson, a Lakeland Rescue Squad member, voluntarily aided the scene of an accident and while in route learned that his 19-year-old daughter was one of the victims. Shortly after leaving the scene, Mr. Danielson suffered a massive heart attack and passed away. Although his heart attack followed the accident, a Workers’ Compensation claim was denied.
This legislation, S-1597, would address this deficiency in State law by expanding the list of first responders eligible for Workers’ Compensation to include any emergency management member working as a volunteer.
Additionally, the bill would define the time period of rebuttable coverage to up to 24 hours after an emergency.
“It’s a tragedy when any first responder, regardless of whether they’re paid or volunteer, is injured or dies in the line of duty,” Oroho added. “When that happens, the last thing a hero or their family needs is to struggle with government bureaucracy to get the help they need. By clarifying and expanding our Workers’ Compensation law, we’re ensuring that all of our first responders get the support they deserve.”
The legislation now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriation Committee for review.
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