ROYERSFORD, Pa. - Making sure frontline workers have the protection they need and making sure they feel supported is more important now than ever before. And, the issue of hazard pay was front and center in Pennsylvania Tuesday.
Since the pandemic began, the public has rightly applauded first responders for their selfless commitment to others. Many people might be surprised to hear who was denied just last week of additional funds.
“Across the state, all of the EMS organizations were denied that funding for hazard pay. The ambulance organizations, the fire companies, the folks that answer the call when you dial 911,” said Lenny Brown.
Federal Cares Act funds were given to states to assist the ongoing battle with COVID-19. It included hazard pay for frontline workers, but with limited money, decisions had to be made.
“We normally operate on very little funding to start with, but we always have to answer the call. We don’t have the option of picking and choosing what emergencies we get to go on. Honestly, it was just another slap in the face for the EMS agencies,” explained Brown.
Brown works with the Royersford Fire Department and their partner organization The Friendship Ambulance Company. The denial of hazard pay and additional funds just highlighted financial issues. He says too many companies face leaving them to fundraise or get donations of PPE or other equipment from the very communities they serve.
“We consider it an honor to serve them. We shouldn’t be in a position where we have to go and ask the people we are entrusted to help to also ask to help us with things like this, especially when it’s directly related to our job,” Brown commented.
State Representative Joe Cerisi agrees that they need and deserve more funds. It was simply an issue of more deserving workers than available money.
“There’s a lot of people who are frontline workers need hazard pay. As we’ve all seen our grocery store workers, our truck drivers, our nurses – there’s so many people now,” stated Rep. Cerisi.
But, he has sponsored a bill to get additional first responder funds, one of the few things he says most in politics agree on.
“This isn’t about Democrat or Republican, this is about Pennsylvania and the people. And, we just have to be able to find the money to get it done,” Cerisi added.
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