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Pa. Senate passes bill protecting emergency workers on game lands

State Sen. John Yudichak, I-Luzerne/Carbon, announced that the Senate has passed a bill that would protect firefighters and EMS personnel on state game lands such as Glen Onoko.

Senate Bill 94, sponsored by Sen. Scott Martin, would ensure coverage for all active volunteers and integral members of a volunteer fire, ambulance or rescue company insured through the State Workers Insurance Fund.

In June 2019, an amendment to the bill by Sen. Christine Tartaglione, D-Philadelphia, offered on behalf of Yudichak was adopted unanimously in the Senate Labor & Industry Committee. The amendment declared that whenever members of volunteer fire companies, volunteer ambulance corps, or rescue and lifesaving squad members are injured in the performance of duty on state game land, the members are considered to be employees of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Yudichak drafted the amendment because of volunteer emergency service personnel who have been injured on rescues at Glen Onoko Falls.

“Our volunteer emergency personnel and first responders often risk their own lives to help save others, and we must support them if they are injured while performing their duties,” Yudichak said. “Senate Bill 94 helps our local municipalities and will give our volunteer emergency personnel peace of mind that they will have the financial resources available to make a full recovery if they get injured while performing their duties.”

“This legislation is great for our local municipalities when responding to emergency calls and rescues at locations like Glen Onoko where our first responders have to navigate dangerous terrain,” said Wayne Nothstein, Carbon County commissioners’ chairman. “It’s great to see the state stepping up and protecting our volunteers.”

“This has long been a concern for our volunteer firefighters and first responders,” said John McArdle, fire chief of Nesquehoning Hose Co. No. 1. “What this legislation does now is it helps lessen the burden on our local municipalities that would have to pay workers’ compensation for someone that would get injured while on a call or rescue on state game land. It’s a great thing for everyone involved.”

“I am thrilled to learn that this important legislation was passed and it’s a big help to our volunteer firefighters and first responders in Carbon County,” said Mark Nalesnik, director of Carbon County Emergency Management Agency. “I would like to thank Sen. Yudichak and all the other legislators who helped to get this bill passed. This will be a big help to our emergency services when we need to deal with issues on state game land.”