Legislators need to show they truly support first responders

Providing for injured responders shows that we stand behind our homeland defenders when the going gets tough


We are in the midst of the season where tradition calls for spreading good tidings of joy and kinship to both friends and strangers. It should be a time of fun gatherings, great food and good times.

Unfortunately for EMS and other public safety providers, this season also marks a pronounced change in the way we do business.

The mass murder in San Bernardino has a made it abundantly clear that we are fighting for the safety and well-being of our home communities. A new chapter has begun in the way those who wish ill will act against us, whether as a personal vendetta or by using new methods to wreak havoc. U.S. first responders have joined their counterparts across the globe, being there when fear strikes in the heart of the community.

There is a sense of urgency that we must take seriously. As 9/11 recedes into the past it has become easier to be complacent, making decisions to not conduct training exercises or develop tactical responses.

San Bernardino should eliminate any doubt that emergency responders are targets. We must train to be smarter in our responses, to better protect both ourselves and our communities.

We know this to be true, but it seems that others don’t agree. The federal legislation to care for first responders affected by the 9/11 attacks expired in October. The World Trade Center Health Program, which is part of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act has not been reauthorized.  

Jon Stewart, comedian and former Daily Show host, has publicly shamed U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for blocking the bill from moving forward.

Why is providing for injured first responders so difficult to understand?

Of course it costs money; on the other hand there aren’t too many people whose job it is to run into a situation that everyone else is running away from. It’s not a question of entitlement — it’s a question of fairness, of knowing that our country will stand behind its homeland defenders when the going gets tough.

Take a moment to contact your federal representatives. Urge them to pass this important piece of legislation and protect those who are responsible for protecting everyone else from harm. It will mean a lot to those who are still suffering the effects of 2001 and will help ease the concerns of those who will be affected by future events.

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