Hi Everyone,
I am looking to start a nonprofit group to help first responders who have had a serious injury on the job (career-ending, multiple surgeries, ect). Some departments treat injured firefighters great, others don't. If you have had this experience (positive or negative) or know someone who has, I would like to know more. What was done by your department that helped you? What did they not do that you needed to recover? How was your workers comp claim handled by your department? Did you have union support, ect. Do you come from a close department where brotherhood is more than a word? I know what my experiences have been and I know other firefighters who have had similar experiences. But I need to know more as to what types of services first responders would need. We get hurt on this job; when it happens, we deserve to be taken care of promptly and in a manner that is going to ensure a successful outcome for the injured firefighter/EMT/paramedic/LEO. Unfortunately, I think the bean counters have already decided what our lives are worth and a serious injury is normally higher than the number allotted. If you have any info as to what services first responders would need when faced with a serious injury (I was thinking scholarships for finding another career that they might enjoy, career counseling, ect), please let me know. Thanks and stay safe.

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Any firefighter who is an active member of a fire department that is supported with tax money must carry the proper insurances for their "employees".
Any private fire department is wise to carry insurance as well, in the event of litigation.
I don't know about your personal experience, but I can tell you that a tax supported fire department cannot simply refuse to pay bills.
My experience is that, for the most part, departments are very good about taking care of their people.
Where the problem comes in, usually, is whether the injury arose out of or was in the course of your work. And the other, my favorite; aggravation of a pre-existing condition. Lots of pre-sumptive cause laws out there now.
If you go non-profit, go with 501 (c) (3). That way; donations are tax deductible.
Good luck.
Thanks for your input. Yes, departments do have to pay their bills through their insurance carrier (although, from what I have read Texas law is different and employers do not necessarily have to have enough insurance to cover injuries.) I live in Florida and many firefighters (myself included) have had excessive delays in their care while awaiting approval of treatment for injuries that occurred on the job. The insurance carriers/departments do not even argue with these individuals that they are on the job injuries; however, almost every seriously injured firefighter ends up having to get an attorney to file multiple petition for benefits for everything that the firefighter is entitled to through the law. I also know of several firefighters who had workers comp claims that were unpaid appear as delinquent on their credit reports; you can imagine their headaches in trying to clear up that mess. However, I realize that changing the worker's comp law is just about impossible, as in Florida, the insurance industry has the most lobbyists except for doctors. The law was changed in October, 2003 in Florida and it was not in favor of the employee. My concern is for the firefighters who fall through the cracks of the system, and trust me, it does happen. What happens to them afterwards?

As for the pre-existing conditions, these should have been caught in the pre-hire physical. I am also not amused by anyone who abuses the workers comp system because it makes it that much harder on those who are truly injured on the job. State laws vary widely as to what is and is not presumptive. I would love to see one federal law that dictates what is a presumptive illness for a firefighter. Firefighters often cross state lines in disasters and should have similar protections. However, the most important thing is to remind everyone to be safe on the job to prevent the injuries in the first place.
When you said "Florida", that was all that you needed to say.
Florida is in real turmoil right now. The fire service, the insurance industry; both very visible and very screwed up.
It will take nothing short of a miracle, but don't lose hope.
You know alot about the system; I'll give you that.
I handle the work comp for our company here in Illinois.
It is a very flawed system...
For BOTH sides.
Art
Hi Art,
It's funny that you said all I needed to mention was "Florida"; we do have our problems here to say the least.

I agree that it is flawed from both sides. The system seems to cost more than it should for some serious injuries due to the problems. This is a problem for everyone. I also wonder what the delays/problems cost in terms of additional medical problems/needs. However, the reality is that the problems/delays, ect cause serious turmoil for the life of the injured first responder. Furthermore, the sad reality is that there will be career ending injuries for first responders. They deserve to find a chance at another career that will pay their bills and give them some personal satisfaction. They also need support, not a legal battle on their hands when they are trying to recover/rebuild their lives. Treating injured first responders as if they are problems that need to be disposed of is not fair to any injured person, let alone someone injured in the line of duty. I am sure that it is not like this everywhere and the departments/states that do treat first responders like this need to learn from other departments/states that have better systems in place. That is why I would like input from people as to what helped them/hurt them during their recovery.
Maybe if we can put together a support system for those first responders who need it, as well as show the departments that have flawed systems in place ideas for improvement, it would help both sides. If an injured firefighter is under stress from a poor system, he or she is less likely to recover quickly. Furthermore, for the firefighters who have career ending injuries, we owe them something more than just throwing them away. They are still human beings who have needs that must be met.
Ohio worker's compensation tends to drag things out as well. They make you go to therapy after theray before they decided that you shoul dhave had the surgery. Now, you are out of IOD time or burning your own time. There needs to be a change.
Thanks for replying.....I am curious as to what your department has down to help or hinder your recovery (or whoever is hurt if it is not you). What would you suggest would help the firefighter recover as much as possible to have a productive life? And do you think your department has a system in place that is able to support what is needed to help the injured?
At around 1900 hrs one evening County Dispatch toned My Company out on a Vehicle Fire on a rural road that was in very close proximity to a residential Structure.. As the Engineer/ Pumper Operator I Followed all necessary Precautions i.e. Positioning of the rig Personell Accountability and working fireground communications with the attack crew.. I noticed that some smoke was headed My way no big deal Ive never donned SCBA on the pump panel and there has never been enough exposure to even register any sort of damage ( Or so I thought) Upon Further investigation The Attack Crew stated that this was in fact a Meth lab Fire.. and You guessed it folks I got a nice little exposure to that junk.. Well I reported it immediately to the A.C. and I went to the E.R. for treatment..
This is where it gets ugly.. I lost My voice for Six Months due to that crap and was told not to be around a fire or any other type of toxin for a while until the symptoms finally cleared up..
My Former Volunteer Department did a BINGO deal to keep funding for the Station.. and when doing this BINGO You might as well be in SCBA for all of the Cigarette Smoke that accumulated in the air..
upon giving My Chief the Docs Orders .. I was told that if I couldnt handle a bit of smoke then I should quote unquote Turn in My gear and get of the hill...
There were times when the Man would even blow smoke in My face and laugh and ask if I needed to go to the ER for that exposure as well..
So I toughed it out the best I could avoided things the Best I could ... And some of my "Brothers" Didnt help out much it was mostly a Dogfight for My rank on the Rig..
as far as Im concerned on this Incident nothing was done right.. even though I did come away from this with a lesson learned.. Firstly Im no longer with that Volunteer Department and secondly any time Im on the Panel there is SCBA on My back and a Mask ready to Be deployed at a moments notice should I need it and standing orders that if I should need anything else all I need to do is grab it and Go ..
I hope this War Story helps somebody
BK
This plain old sucks Brother. This Chief and any other member of that department that thinks that way should be released of duty. They are going to get someone killed.
The Chief there is now the Former Chief.. and from what I hear there is alot of Policy change there.. No blood no foul I guess lol
Hi Bobby,
Hope you are doing better. That does suck how they treated you.....been there....sometimes you wonder what happened to brotherhood in some departments? They should have been there for you through your injury, not trying to get your slot!!!! The sad part is that I think too many firefighters try to tough it out through their injuries instead of letting their departments know what they need. While I don't think you should need a year to recover from a hangnail, nor complain about the small things, the serious injuries need attention. However, it seems that when you try to say, "Hey I'm hurt and I need help" it doesn't work out well.....hence why so many firefighters probably keep their health problems/injuries to themselves. What they need to realize is that any one can get hurt at any time......your story shows that. You were just at the pump panel and had a serious injury because of that. Hopefully, by telling others what happened to you they will learn the lesson you learned the hard way.......One also hopes that your department did have some policy changes after what happened to you and how you were treated. Hang in there and stay safe. Thanks for sharing your story......Berni
I don't know Bobby from Adam.
He has stated that there was a situation between himself and his former fire department.
Keep in mind that we are hearing from the one side and it is for that reason that I am not ready to indict, criticize or otherwise denounce with a broad stroke the leadership of his former department.
I handle the work injuries for our company and I can tell you that everything is NEVER as it appears. A small injury turns into something huge, replete with attorneys, second opinions and arbitration. Then you have something that you think could go big on you and poof! it goes away very quietly.
My point is that it is a complex system and where insurance companies are involved, they drive the claim to what ever outcome mutually benefits. Sometimes, that leaves the claimant with a bad taste in their mouth, but if you choose work comp to handle your claim of work related injury, then it becomes the sole remedy and if you are upset, then be upset with yourself for not getting an attorney in the first place or for getting one who got his degree out of the back of a Rolling Stone magazine.
In any case, I am not going to comment either way on whether or not FF King got the meat puppet.
Art
Hi Art,
I will agree that not is all that it seems in the workers comp world of claims and that sometimes claims are handled correctly while other times they are not. However, I have long ago accepted that the workers comp world is often not one that is conducive to a healing atmosphere for the injured firefighters. You are correct in saying that I do not know both sides of the story; however, my intent here is to offer support for a firefighter who was injured on the job. It appears that in claims, we often forget that there is an injured firefighter who needs support.

Personally, I would recommend to anyone who is injured on the job to seek legal representation from a competent attorney immediately. That is my personal opinion. If you work for a good department that takes care of its firefighters, you may not need this. Seriously injured firefighters often do need this however. Many cases of workers comp go on for one year before a person seeks out legal rep. However, the reality also is that once you seek out an attorney to protect your interests, many departments may change their attitude to you quickly. However, if not for the workers comp system, many individuals would not be able to afford their medical care; they also should have not have to pay for medical care when they are injured on the job. Personally, I believe that the entire workers comp system needs to be scrapped and we should start over again.

However, I would stress again that my intent is to offer support for a firefighter who suffered a serious injury on the job. There are many consequences of an injury outside of just the economic outlook for the insurance companies, or the firefighter. The human cost of firefighters injuries had, I believe, one line in the NIST report on the cost of firefighter injuries. However, for the firefighter and family, these human costs add up to much more than just one line in their lives. The reality is that the system rarely offers support for these issues and therefore, we need to be supportive of eachother when injured. However, when a fire department does not offer support to an injured firefighter (according to the post), than perhaps we need to question what their policies are in an effort to make them better. The quicker firefighters heal after injuries, the less stress on the workers comp system, the fire department and the firefighters. That should be everyone's goal.

What I was looking for when I started this discussion was information from injured firefighters as to what helped them or hindered them in their recovery process. The goal is to be able to establish a group to help first responders with career ending injuries as to getting their life back on track both emotionally and financially, hopefully through retraining for a different career that they would still be able to do. One must always remember that once you are in the workers comp system, you are hindered in your choices, even with other career goals. Obviously if a firefighter goes out for a back injury, any work that compromises this injury would raise a claim of abuse in the workers comp system. However, I believe that what a firefighter can and cannot do after an injury should be left up to the physicians......not those handling a claim who do not have the medical knowledge to determine the extent of aggravating factors.

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