HARRISBURG - On Tuesday, the House voted unanimously to approve a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Stephen Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) that will relax staffing requirements for Basic Life Support Services across Pennsylvania and provide compensation and disability benefits related to COVID-19 to certain emergency responders and Pennsylvania National Guard personnel. The bill is now on its way to the governor’s desk.
“House Bill 1869
will help the men and women on the frontlines who guard and protect us during times of emergency,” said Barrar. “As chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, and as a military veteran, I am keenly aware of the risks our military and emergency services personnel take every day.”
The bill would compensate state and local municipal firefighters, EMS and law enforcement personnel, as well as Pennsylvania National Guard personnel activatedto assist our frontline responders and health care providers, who contract or are diagnosed with coronavirus. It would provide up to 60 days of coverage per incident, affording them ample time to recover.
“I personally spoke with Adjutant General Anthony Carrelli who called my attention to the absence of protection for guard personnel who have been activated to assist communities during the emergency declaration. It is important to provide the same protections to both our state and municipal emergency and law enforcement personnel as well,” said Barrar. “We extended COVID-19 protection to those emergency response and enforcement personnel who are currently covered by Pennsylvania’s Heart and Lung Act and to our PennsylvaniaNational Guard members who fall under Workers’ Compensation coverage.”
The legislation also addresses a problem experienced all too often across the Commonwealth where thestaffing requirements for EMS agencies is too difficult to maintain due to a shortage of EMS personnel. House Bill 1869 aims to protect public health and safety by permitting EMS agencies, which are struggling to meet staffing requirements, to seek a staffing waiver from the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Bureau of EMS. This change will help to ensure that EMS services continue while maintaining the viability of the EMS system and patient care.