Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Opinion

June 3, 2014

Honoring our EMS professionals

I hope in one way or another every Hoosier found a way to celebrate National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week which honors our EMS personnel and the work they do. This year was particularly special, as it celebrated Indiana’s 40th year of having an organized EMS system. The week’s theme was “EMS: Dedicated. For Life,” which made me reflect on what dedication for EMS professionals truly meant.

Dedication requires constant preparedness, commitment and passion. For emergency medical personnel, this is even more important as they race the clock to save lives. I was honored to help our EMS professionals this session by supporting two pieces of legislation that passed the House unanimously.

As emergency medical service personnel do their jobs, oftentimes risking their own safety to save a life, Senate Enrolled Act 61 gives local governments the option to provide short-term disability programs to their EMS workers when, previously, they may not have been covered.

For example, in a situation where EMS providers are disabled because of an injury or illness that cannot be covered by worker’s compensation or occupational diseases occupation, a municipal corporation could provide programs of disability insurance to these professionals. This option can provide peace of mind when choosing how to best ensure the safety and care of EMS employees.

House Enrolled Act 1336 adds an emergency medical services state medical director, who would be overseen by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and would act as the voice for Indiana’s EMS. This includes being active in the policy, training and education affecting EMS personnel.

The director will have the ability to shape protocol for each region in our state. This ensures that the needs of each area are tailored to fit the differences between each EMS division across Indiana. This approach allows the director to measure the needs of the different divisions and advance preparedness, benefitting all Hoosiers.

We may never be able to sufficiently thank our EMS professionals or give them as much recognition as they deserve, but the celebration of last week and the legislation we passed this session shows that the Indiana General Assembly and Hoosiers across the state appreciate our EMS employees and the work they do.

Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties.

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