Proposed bill would increase worker protections for first responders

The public health committee is currently reviewing testimony

BOSTON (WWLP) – There’s no telling what first responders will encounter on the job each day, but some situations can be dangerous.

Firefighters, emergency medical technicians and police officers can be exposed to harmful chemicals or even infectious diseases on the job.

If a first responder is stuck by a needle or thinks they’ve contracted an infectious disease from a patient at work, they fill out a form to test the patient and must get their consent. If the person refuses, there’s currently no way of getting a blood sample or specimen to test, according to Boston EMS Chief Jim Hooley.

He testified in support of a bill that would allow a first responder to petition for a court order requiring the patient to be tested if the responder has sufficient evidence.

Hooley contracted Hepititus B on the job.

“I was infectious before I became symptomatic,” Hooley said. “So now potentially now my wife, my family, they all required some immunoglobulin, some treatment, which again, you’re wondering, what else is there?”

The public health committee is currently reviewing testimony on the bill.