SD bill would increase punishment for assault on first responders

H.B. 1293 would make an assault on an EMS provider or firefighter a class 6 felony, punishable by up to two years in prison

By EMS1 Staff

PIERRE, S.D. — A bill being considered by state congress would increase punishment for assaults on first responders.

Argus Leader reported that H.B. 1293 would increase assault charges on EMS providers and firefighters to a class 6 felony, which is the same as it is for an assault on a police officer.

The punishment for a class 6 felony is up to two years in prison and/or a $4,000 fine. Currently, the punishment for assault on firefighters and EMS providers is one year in county jail and/or a $2,000 fine.

Aggravated assaults on first responders would be bumped up to a class 2 felony, carrying a punishment of 25 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

"It should be the same penalty if they attack EMS," paramedic Monte Mathews said. "We’re part of the public safety network."

Mathews has been assaulted by patients in the past, including a heroin overdose patient who was not happy that his high had been reversed by naloxone.

"Think if you're a heroin addict - you give yourself a buzz, and we come along and ruin it," Mathews said. "When they come around, they’re mad because we ruined their high. We just screwed up their $40 high."

Paramedic Matthew Gruchow said the bill would not punish combative patients with medical conditions such as dementia.

"This isn’t going to be the case where you throw a fit, understandably, if your loved one is going through a cardiac arrest,” Gruchow said. "This is for someone really trying to hurt us."

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