[R67] Keeping Public Safety a Priority this Session (2/28/2014)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Start Date: 2/28/2014 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 2/28/2014
For a moment, I would like you to put yourself in the shoes of a first responder. You go to work, expecting it to be an ordinary day, or as ordinary of a day as a first responder can have. While on the job, however, you are involved in an accident while driving an ambulance to assist someone who has just collapsed. In the accident, you yourself are injured. The injuries leave you unable to work, and medical bills begin piling up. Thankfully, you have worker’s compensation insurance, but that quickly runs dry. Where do you turn to next? This problem occurs more often in Indiana than you might think. 

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) employees across the state have access to worker’s compensation, but the funds are often insufficient to provide for all of their needs. Once these benefits are exhausted, local municipalities are not able to offer them any additional disability insurance coverage. Typically, when worker’s compensation coverage runs out, EMS providers lose their job as there are no other options for them. 

These individuals work every day to save lives, yet find themselves without anywhere to turn to when they need it most. That is why Senate Bill (SB) 61 is so important. When EMS providers are not covered by worker’s compensation or occupational diseases compensation, or the two benefits have been exhausted, SB 61 authorizes a municipal corporation to provide disability insurance programs. 

It also helps these men and women promptly, as SB 61 provides that the waiting period for their compensation cannot be more than 30 days for a short-term disability program, and 120 days for a long-term disability program.

EMS providers sometimes get overlooked when we are thanking public servants. However, they are helping people in the community, and saving lives, each and every day. So when they need help, we ought to be thankful for the opportunity to pay them back for their service. This bill does exactly that, extending a helping hand when they need it the most.  

SB 335 applies to public safety more directly as it requires the Executive Director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) to develop and implement protocols concerning the use of severe weather warning sirens. 

Currently, there is no uniformity across the state for these notification systems. Some places use them to indicate a tornado watch, while others use them to indicate a tornado warning. Some even sound emergency alarms every day. As a result, if you are visiting another town that is experiencing bad weather, or you have recently moved into the area, you may not realize the seriousness of a situation based on the emergency notification systems. 

By requiring the IDHS to establish protocols, uniformity and consistency will be established across the state. The idea is whether you’re in Greensburg or Indianapolis, when those sirens go off, you will know exactly what they mean and how you should proceed to safety. 

As someone who has been a firefighter and has a son who is currently serving, I am always humbled when I have an opportunity to bring my knowledge of public safety to the Statehouse in order to make Indiana a safer place for its citizens and a more generous place for those who work to keep us safe. I am also extremely thankful for the support these measures received in both chambers and by both parties. I am confident that as we move forward, we will continue to make Indiana a better and safer state, providing the security that Hoosiers need to go about their daily lives.


Frye_Public Safety Legislation.docx