We all teach our children safety measures and do our best to be cautious in our everyday lives, hoping to avoid a life-threatening situation. However, emergencies still happen. Our communities count on firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to protect our wellbeing under the most dire of circumstances. These courageous individuals have dedicated themselves to serving the public, often at great personal risk.

It is imperative that nothing impede the smooth operations of our local fire and emergency medical service (EMS) departments. To this end, Rep. Kristina Roegner and I have introduced House Bill 244, legislation that allows authorized paramedics to immunize EMTs or firefighters against influenza. The bill requires emergency medical service organizations to create protocols which paramedics must observe when administering the vaccine.

House Bill 244 will provide flexibility to our EMS and fire departments, while also giving them an opportunity for cost savings. Currently, contractors must be hired to immunize firefighters and EMTs. Our emergency service providers should be able to pick an option that works best in their schedules. This legislation is a commonsense move. When we depend so much on our firefighters and EMTs, they should not be inconvenienced by an unnecessary law.

This bill has also drawn support from local leaders in emergency service. Columbus Division of Fire Medical Director David Keseg has offered testimony in support of House Bill 244, stating that it will help to lower the risk of EMS providers spreading influenza to the public. He also pointed out that paramedics are already trained to perform these vaccinations, but current law limits their ability to do so.

The bottom line is simple: No one should be at risk of contracting influenza from a firefighter or EMT, individuals who work to save our lives, not endanger them. Influenza is a serious and sometimes deadly disease, especially for infants and the elderly. House Bill 244 provides an easy way to ensure that our emergency service providers do not expose the public to this illness. Furthermore, it is only logical to allow paramedics to administer an immunization for which they are already trained. I am confident that this legislation will improve the functioning of local fire and EMS departments across Ohio.


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