EMS providers deserve the same hazard pay as fire, police

The monthly supplement would cost less than what the state is spending on police and firefighters, and would demonstrate recognition and respect

As a long time EMS provider, I’ve been frustrated by the relative lack of recognition we receive from our lawmakers.

The fact that Louisiana legislators failed to even vote on a proposal to give EMS workers the same $500 monthly supplement that law enforcement officers and firefighters receive as hazard pay from the state shows they fail to understand the role  EMS providers play in the public safety net.

Senate Bill 285 doesn’t even authorize the financial resources; it merely allows the proposed amendment to go before voters later this year.

EMS providers experience the same level of stress and hazards as our police and fire co-workers. We actually suffer higher rates of injury compared to police and fire.

Yet it seems EMS is its own worst enemy. We are the last public safety branch to professionalize, and we continue to evolve in terms of education and discipline needed to be afforded the “respect” we seek. In Louisiana, like other part of the country, pay and benefits are low. But fair pay is needed to maintain a professional workforce that doesn’t turnover, or become tempted by immoral or illegal acts in order to make a livable wage.

The EMS hazard pay proposal would cost the state $3.7 million. In 2007, Louisiana spent nearly $100 million on the supplement to firefighters and police, and it’s likely to be more now.

In comparison, $3.7 million doesn’t seem like very much.

It seems short sighted that the Louisiana Senate is balking at this issue.

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