Sunday, December 28, 2014

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Finger Lakes

Push for Mark's Law

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Rochester: Harsher Punishment to Come for Assaulting First Responders
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In the wake of the tragic shooting in Webster on Christmas Eve there appears to be new momentum for state legislation that would stiffen the penalities for those convicted of killing a first responder.

In 2009, two volunteer EMT's responded to a medical emergency in Cape Vincent. At the scene, a gunman ambushed the men as they got out of the ambulance, killing EMT Mark Davis. In light of recent events, lawmakers are working to give those convicted of these crimes the ultimate sentence.

The initial emergency calls that come in, play out very different on the scene.

In fact, before EMT's can treat a patient at more dangerous scenes, called 'hot zones', they have to wait for police to secure the area.

"I think that reduces the chance of our folks getting injured or killed in the line of duty," said LaShay Harris of the Rural Metro Services.

Each year there are 700,000 assaults against firefighters and EMT's in our country.

"I think with Sandy Hook and the tragedy in West Webster I think it has brought to the foreground the need that first responders need to be protected," said Joe Morelle.

"To have us protected in some way shape or form, I'm all for it, we're just going out there trying to help and unfortunately now we have to watch our backs on top of it. It's very sad," said Chief Patrick Meyers of the North Greece Fire Department.

The legislation, known as Mark's Law, would make it possible for those who kill EMT's or fire fighters to be charged with first degree murder, the same as police officers. The bill will be part of a larger gun law package.

"We can protect our second amendment rights and still protect our families from these kinds of tragedies," said Morelle.

Some veterans in the business say the game has certainly changed.

"Today as medical technicians they respond to a lot of domestic family situations and a variety of things," said Ken Preston of the North Greece Fire District. "When people leave the building now they have no idea what they're going to be facing."

These extra precautions have a trade off.

"It may not change our response time to the scene but it affects our time to patient contact. It's very frustrating," said Harris.

First responders say potential danger on the job is not on the forefront of their mind but it is never out of sight.

The initial bill passed the Senate in 2009 but faced resistance in the Assembly. State Assembly Majority Leader Morelle says the final version of the new bill is not complete but hopes to have the final draft in the next few days. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP