first responders

States and cities rely on business-generated tax revenue to help pay for employees delivering public services, like sanitation workers, first responders, health and safety workers, and librarians.

Until recently, that is.

In the six weeks since the coronavirus pandemic began ravaging U.S. businesses, more than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment.

And with businesses tanking, many local governments are running out of money to pay for those public services.

A medical professional performs the COVID-19 test at a drive up testing site in Merrillville, Indiana.
Justin Hicks / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Behind a nondescript strip mall in Carmel, Indiana, a short line of cars gathers mid-afternoon next to a large tent. Medical professionals stand out front, dressed head to toe in blue medical gear. People in the cars – many of them first responders – drive up to get checked for COVID-19.

The national stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied Ohio with more than 493,000 gloves, 271,000 N95 masks, 675,000 surgical masks and other gear.

But state and local leaders say those shipments weren’t enough to mount a proper defense against the coronavirus pandemic. So local governments have been asking for PPE donations — and in some cases, buying their own gear.

The new Columbus Police Wellness Bureau.
Adora Namigadde / WOSU

Ohio is one step closer to granting workers' compensation to first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder. The policy change would base benefits off of the mental health condition rather than requiring an accompanying physical injury.

elderly man holding hands
Pexels

In the next five years, more than a quarter of Ohioans will be over the age of 60. That’s a concern for first responders, as they’re more likely than ever to encounter a person with dementia.

Ohio State Fire Marshal / Facebook

A specialized training exercise is taking place all week at the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office.

If you see and hear first responder vehicles near Great American Ball Park at The Banks Thursday morning, don't panic. First responders are practicing how to respond in a mass casualty event like a natural disaster or terrorist attack.  

The Senate has voted 97-2 to approve a bill that will virtually ensure permanent funding for rescue workers whose work after the Sept. 11 attacks caused health problems.

The House passed the bill last month, and President Trump is expected to approve it, ending a years-long ordeal for the victims after concerns that the fund was on the verge of running out of money.

Updated at 3:11 p.m. EST

Comedian Jon Stewart slammed representatives on Tuesday at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, saying it was "shameful" that more of them did not attend.

"As I sit here today, I can't help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to," Stewart said in his statement. "Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders; and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress."

Pexels

As Ohio’s Hepatitis A outbreak continues, Columbus first responders received vaccinations at a clinic Wednesday, following the recommendation of public health officials.

The last few weeks have been difficult for first responders around Cincinnati. Five local law enforcement officers have died. A Clermont County sheriff's detective will be laid to rest Friday. Bill Brewer was killed last weekend in a Pierce Township standoff.

The Ohio House and Senate worked to pass a pay raise for themselves and other state and local government officials before the end of the year by attaching the measure to a bill, SB296, that would increase benefits for families of first responders who died on the job.

Clare Roth / WOSU

Columbus officials broke ground Wednesday on Fire Station 35, the first in the city designed to keep firefighters' living spaces free of carcinogens.

Steve Dillman thinks he can trace his prostate cancer back to August 1, 1985.

Columbus Division of Fire
WOSU

State officials say $426,000 in grants aimed at protecting firefighters from carcinogens and other health hazards is being shared by 40 fire departments in Ohio.

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