Archive for June 27th, 2018

Mattoon Fire Department news (more)

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As the end date approaches for the Mattoon Fire Department’s ambulance service, Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service and Dunn’s Ambulance are getting ready to expand their fleet and staffs.

The fire department ambulance service is set to end July 25. The firefighters’ union is pushing to keep the fire department’s advanced life support capabilities as a backup for the two private ambulance providers. 

On July 18, the Mattoon City Council voted to get rid of the fire department’s ambulance service to save money.

Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service is looking to increase its fleet from three to four ambulances, add more staff, and to make upgrades. Dunn’s has two ambulances in Mattoon and will add a third before July 25. Dunn’s also plans to hire more ambulance crews in Mattoon.

City officials in Mattoon said the fire department’s ambulance service duplicates the work of the private providers. The city filed a lawsuit against the union in May. Mattoon officials said the city is coming up with updated regulations for private ambulance services.

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Rockford Fire Department news

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A veteran in the stateline is a proud winner of a 2018 Ford F-150. Rockford Firefighters Local 413 raises money so it can buy cars for wounded vets and this year’s lucky recipient is Ryan Curry.

Ryan was injured in Iraq in 2006 when his unit hit an I.E.D and was ambushed. He started a group for veterans with PTSD called “Beneath the Beard” and dedicates his time giving back to the community. He says that this new car will help him reach more people in the area.

Rockford Firefighters Local 413 are hosting a special game at the Rockford Rivets Stadium this Friday night and will sell special jerseys for Wheels 4 Warriors.

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Cancer in the fire service

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More than a year after a Houston firefighter died of cancer, her husband is fighting for benefits he says his wife earned. Margaret Roberts loved being a Houston firefighter. She did it for more than 21 years until her cancer-ravaged body simply couldn’t do it anymore. After a long fight with multiple myeloma, Margaret died in January 2017.

Three months after her death, Houston Fire Department Chief Sam Pena wrote a letter to the state pension system swearing, “Her death was a result of an illness sustained in the line of duty.” In a letter to the 100 Club after that, Pena again wrote that Roberts’ passing was “Declared a Line of Duty Death.”

Both letters would entitle Roberts’ surviving husband and children to benefits paid by groups other than the city of Houston. But when it comes to paying workers comp survivors benefits out of city funds, the city is hauling Roberts’ grieving family back before a workers comp judge. Despite losing the case for health benefits when Roberts was alive, the city wants to fight again on the same issue, claiming her multiple myeloma isn’t related to her firefighting work, but instead her race, weight, and family history.

Roberts’ own occupational medicine doctor declared in 2013, “In my professional opinion, Margaret Roberts’ multiple myeloma is work-related.”

The International Firefighters Union recognizes a link between multiple myeloma and firefighting. Four states specifically link cancer to firefighting. Scientific studies in 1983, 2001, 2006 and 2015 all suggest an increased or significantly elevated risk for firefighters getting multiple myeloma.

But Texas doesn’t recognize those studies, choosing instead to follow a United Nations-linked recommendation that doesn’t explicitly link the specific cancer to firefighting. The city refused to comment pending the lawsuits.

Roberts’ case is one of the first to go through the state’s workers comp system in which firefighters assert a link between cancer and fighting fires.

It is a growing issue across the country.

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