Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Reps. Ford, May ask governments to treat COVID-19 as line-of-duty injury for first responders

Ford, May Ask for Job Injury Pay for Public Safety First Responders

OKLAHOMA CITY - State Reps. Ross Ford and Stan May, both R-Broken Arrow, are asking state, county and municipal governments to cover public safety officers that contract COVID-19 in the same manner as a line-of-duty injury.

“Any public safety officer that contracts this illness should have it treated as a presumptive line-of-duty injury the same as any other injury,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

Ford, a former police officer, and May, a firefighter, said they’ve been contacted by many first responders who are serving the public each day but putting themselves and their family members at risk of catching the fast-spreading and sometimes fatal virus.

“Public safety officers assume a risk when they go to work each day,” Ford and May said. “But, we as a society have a duty to help compensate them when they are injured on the job while protecting the public and ensuring our safety. Putting themselves at risk while helping people who might have this virus constitutes the same type of work injury as any other.”

Ford and May said they were both pleased with Gov. Stitt’s recent executive order that requires guaranteed paid time off for any first responders, including correctional officers, law enforcement or fire personnel, that contract COVID-19, but they want the benefit extended to line-of-duty injury pay.

Brandon Tener, Fraternal Order of Police president of Lodge No. 170 in Broken Arrow, said, “Understanding the dangers associated with the occupation of policing in these unprecedented times, it is important to develop and implement policy regarding on-duty communicable disease exposure.  The results of these men’s efforts will provide peace of mind and exposure protection both now and in the future, allowing officers to continue to serve their community without fear or hesitation.”

John Cockrell, president of Broken Arrow Firefighters IAFF Local 2551 said, “I am extremely grateful for the actions of Representatives Ford and May. Their efforts to protect first responders during this unprecedented pandemic show they value the men and women who choose to serve the public as a profession. Public safety is an inherently dangerous job that we all willingly accept. Treating an illness as a result of this pandemic as any other line-of-duty injury is the right thing to do. Thank you, representatives, for your efforts!”


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