In the midst of a global pandemic, Senator Nick Collins recently filed an amendment to a funding bill that would provide workers’ compensation benefits to our state’s emergency responders by creating a rebuttable presumption that an emergency worker’s death or disability was caused by a contagious disease suffered on the job upon meeting certain requirements. The amendment contains the text of S.1485, a bill that Senator Collins has been filing for several years.

After public hearings, testimony, and advocacy, the bill has reached the Ways and Means Committee, a final hurdle before passage. Due to the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senator is pushing for its passage in this bill.

“Our firefighters, EMS, police officers and other emergency responders are prepared to lay it all on the line for the citizens of the Commonwealth,” said Senator Nick Collins. “They are oftentimes exposed to dangerous diseases in the line of duty when responding to emergency situations. This bill ensures that our first responders and their families are taken care of for any disease picked up on the job, especially in the time of COVID-19.”

This amendment recognizes the risks associated with these jobs by creating a rebuttable presumption that any contagious disease resulting in the death or disability of an emergency responder was suffered in the line of duty. In order for the presumption to apply, the individual must be a full-time, uniformed member of a paid police department, fire department or municipal emergency medical staff and the individual successfully passed an entry level physical examination which failed to reveal any evidence of the contagious disease causing the death or disability.

Equally important, in order to claim benefits under this bill, an individual must prove that he or she regularly responded to emergency calls during his or her service.

“This Amendment will protect first responders and their families from COVID 19 now and in the future” said Rich MacKinnon Jr., President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts (PFFM). “Knowing state lawmakers put measures in place to protect our Members on the front lines would have a positive impact across the Fire Service, joining numerous other states across the country that have already passed such protections for their Firefighters.” The amendment will be debated as part of a full formal session on Thursday, July 2nd in the Massachusetts State Senate.

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