Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee Approves Three Bills addressing First Responder Issues

Click for audio from the committee meeting.

Today the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved three bills addressing issues for first responders and sent them onto the full Senate for consideration, according to Committee Chairman Senator Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny).

House Bill 1683, introduced by Rep. Ryan Warner (R-Fayette), would authorize municipalities to enact income tax credits for active volunteer firefighters and EMS providers.

“The number of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania continues to shrink,” said Sen. Vulakovich.  “House Bill 1683 will give municipalities another tool to help attract and retain these valuable volunteers.”

House Bill 2058, sponsored by Rep. Frank Farry (R-Bucks), would allow paramedics to conduct blood draws at police stations – rather than hospitals – from persons suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.

“House Bill 2058 will save our law enforcement community real time and money,” said Sen. Vulakovich.  “Rather than having to transport an individual to and from a hospital, this legislation would allow a paramedic – if not on a 911 call – to go to the police station to draw the blood.  Most importantly, the blood draw would be done in a safer environment.  In 2005, a Newtown police officer Brian Gregg (Bucks County) was fatally shot and killed after a suspect was uncuffed at a hospital prior to the blood draw.  This legislation was introduced to honor Office Gregg’s memory.”

House Bill 2148, also sponsored by Rep. Farry, would amend the Enforcement Officers Disability Benefits Law – or “Heart & Lung Act” – to extend coverage to:

  • All Paid firemen not employed by the Commonwealth
  • Emergency medical services personnel employed within a city fire department
  • Firemen of airport authorities, including fire suppression instructors
  • Fire and safety marshals who are firemen employed by the Commonwealth
  • Fire Academy instructors employed at the State Fire Academy
  • Assistant fire marshals employed by the Commonwealth
  • Forest patrolmen and forest technicians employed by the Commonwealth

“Currently the Heart and Lung Act provides compensation to a broad class of first responders, including most career firefighters, when they suffer an injury while performing an official duty,” said Sen. Vulakovich.  “House Bill 2148 would ensure that all professional firefighters – and related paramedics – are covered, and in particular our firefighters serving at the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Fort Indiantown Gap base.”

Contact:         Nate Silcox (717)        787-6538         nsilcox@pasen.gov