Assemblywoman Woerner: Safety of Our Communities Depends on Success of First Responder Organizations

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) recently attended an event hosted by the Salem Rotary Club where she honored two local EMS organizations and discussed ongoing legislation to support emergency services.

“Our communities are the safe, thriving places that we call home thanks to the hard and selfless work of our EMS crews, volunteer firefighters and other first responders,” Woerner said. “Day in and day out, these hometown heroes dedicate themselves to keeping our families safe from harm and put their lives on the line in the process. I have always stood by these brave men and women and will continue working to ensure they have the benefits they’ve rightfully earned and the resources necessary to protect our neighborhoods.”

During the event, Woerner honored the Salem Volunteer Fire Department and the Salem Rescue Squad for their commitment and service to the local community. Additionally, she and her constituents discussed several pieces of legislation that work to address issues faced by EMS organizations. This includes bills recently signed into law to ensure that all who were employed in qualified service during the World Trade Center rescue, recovery and cleanup operations are eligible for benefits and that designates emergency responders, dispatchers and operators as “first responders in communications” (Ch. 424, 426 of 2021).

Woerner also spoke on legislation she sponsored to allow claims for death or disability benefits due to vascular rupture, which was inspired by the tragic death of Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company Chief James Brooks (A.6767-A), as well as her bill to allow air transport ambulances to carry blood and emergency medical technicians on-board to perform transfusions (A.2561-B). She also provided an update on a bill regulating the use of flame retardant chemicals in upholstered furniture, mattresses and electronics (A.5418-B).

In addition, Woerner and her constituents spoke about the challenges of recruiting and retaining new members for both fire departments and EMS organizations, including the extensive commitment recruits must make in education and training and the possibility of additional scholarship opportunities for high school and college students who are also volunteer firefighters. Woerner currently sponsors legislation that would increase the tax credit for volunteer firefighters and EMS members from $200 to $1,200 (A.886). New recruitment is critical to ensuring that first responder organizations have the staff available to provide top-notch service to the community and keep families safe, Woerner noted.