Former President Calvin Coolidge once said that “Heroism is not only in man, but in the occasion.” Firefighters and paramedics rise to the occasion daily to offer service and protection during emergency situations. It is not at all farfetched to consider their occupation in a heroic light. These courageous individuals place themselves in dangerous situations, motivated by their dedication to serving the public.

With all of the risk involved in their job, the last thing that our firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) need is more hoops to jump through due to unnecessarily restrictive laws. It is important that we create legislation that supports firefighters and EMTs in their efforts, and when necessary, do away with legislation that acts as a hindrance. With that in mind, I am so pleased to announce that my colleagues and I voted unanimously to pass House Bill 244.

House Bill 244 permits authorized paramedics to administer immunizations for influenza to firefighters or emergency medical technicians. Previously, Ohio law required local fire and emergency medical service (EMS) departments to hire outside contractors to provide the immunizations. Working through a contractor was not only a scheduling nightmare—attempting to coordinate one day to perform all of the necessary immunizations—it was also an unnecessary cost. Paramedics are already trained to administer flu vaccines, but were legally restricted from doing so.

The bill requires emergency medical service organizations to develop protocols that paramedics must observe when administering the vaccine. This acts as a safeguard to ensure consistency in this new practice. However, this legislation is not only a safeguard for our firefighters and paramedics. Simplifying the process involved in ensuring our emergency service providers receive flu vaccinations will help to lower the risk of them spreading influenza to the public. This is especially important for protecting at-risk age groups, such as infants and the elderly.

When it comes to such a serious, sometimes deadly illness like the flu, we have to ensure that safety remains a priority. This legislation brings the issue of safety full circle. It is a common-sense move that increases safety for both the public and emergency service providers. As a sister of three first responders, professional and volunteer, I am eager and honored to support our local heroes. I am actively working towards an Emergency Medical Response Respect Bill, intended to cut down on 911 abuse and to hold those accountable who go out of their way to put our first responders in harm’s way.

We depend a great deal on our firefighters and paramedics. We should not be burdening them with unnecessary costs and restrictions. This legislation allows greater flexibility to our EMS and fire departments by capitalizing on skills that they already possess. I am confident that this legislation is going to increase safety and improve the ways in which emergency medical providers operate across the state.


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