Frye: Legislation advances providing benefits to Hoosier first responders who die from COVID-19

STATEHOUSE (March 3, 2021) – The Indiana House of Representatives recently voted in support of legislation co-authored by State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) providing line of duty death benefits to Hoosier first responders who die from COVID-19.

Frye said first responders are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 because of their close contact and interactions with patients exposed to the disease. House Bill 1515 would ensure Hoosier first responders, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs who die or become disabled from complications from COVID-19 after being exposed to it while on the job receive line of duty death or disability benefits. Currently, the list of diseases that qualify a first responder for these benefits include hepatitis, meningitis, smallpox, tuberculosis and more.

“Our first responders put their uniforms on and go to work every day to protect our communities, and now they face a new threat,” said Frye, who chairs the House Veteran Affairs and Public Safety Committee. “Risks come with the job, and as they respond to all types of emergencies, they are focusing on the tasks at hand and coming into close contact with numerous people. It’s hard to de-escalate a domestic violence situation while maintaining six-feet of distance or ask someone who is suffering a cardiac arrest if they have COVID. Instead, they perform CPR and deal with the consequences later.”

In Indiana, it is reported that one firefighter and one sheriff’s deputy died because of COVID-19, and their families did not receive the benefits that other families receive when a public safety officer dies in the line of duty. The proposed legislation would be retroactive, so survivors of a first responder who died in the line of duty after Jan. 1, 2020, could receive a benefit amount of $225,000.

In any line of duty death, an investigation is required along with a coroner review to verify the cause of death and validate the disease could be traced to the line of duty.

The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration. 

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