Grateful for our public safety officialsI recently had the pleasure of meeting with the fire department chiefs of Kendallville and Albion at the Statehouse. Both Steve Bushong and Mike Riehm have committed their lives to keeping Hoosiers in our community safe, and it was great being able to discuss ways to allow them to better serve our communities. Along with my colleague State Representative Randy Frye, who retired in 2010 as a firefighter, we discussed some of the important issues currently facing Indiana’s fire departments.
In our meeting, I mentioned the efforts of the General Assembly to address some of the concerns facing Hoosier fire departments and volunteer firefighters today. One of those issues that we discussed was volunteer firefighters being limited in their ability to serve as an executive, on an executive body or as a member of community’s legislative body. I am always eager to listen to the concerns of the public, especially from our community’s safety officials, and discuss possible options to resolve those concerns.
Ensuring safer communities continues to be a priority of mine. That is why, I, along with the many of my colleagues, will continue our work to support local public safety officials, who are vital to keeping Hoosiers safe.
This session, we passed legislation that expresses our support for safety personnel throughout the state. For example, as Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel do their jobs and risk their own life to save another, Senate Enrolled Act 61 provides local governments the option to provide short-term disability programs to these workers. This can help cover EMS professionals in situations where they may not have previously been covered by insurance.
Also, in the situation where EMS providers are disabled because of an injury or illness that cannot be covered by worker’s compensation or occupational diseases compensation, a municipal corporation can now provide programs of disability insurance to their local EMS personnel. This legislation provides peace of mind when choosing how to best protect and care for EMS employees.
We will continue to look at what can be done to make our communities a safer place to live, work and raise a family as well as support Indiana’s public safety officials like Steve and Mike. As always, I remain dedicated to listening to the needs of my community and discussing every option to address those needs.
I’m glad I was able to listen to the concerns facing fire departments in our region because now we will be able to work together to address them moving forward. Providing adequate support to both firefighters and EMS professionals is necessary to keeping our community safe and protecting our citizens.
Rep. Ober represents all of Noble County and portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.