I have been doing public safety communications for 11 years now.  My husband of 9 years has been involved in the fire service and EMS for over 15 years.  He is a Master Firefighter/EMT with a career department and the Assistant Chief for his volunteer department.

 

In June 2008, my husband was injured when a roof collapsed on him.  Since then, he has undergone shoulder surgery and two surgeries on his back.  The last back surgery was in September 2009 and required fusing his spine from T4 - L1 (10 levels).

 

Work comp was a joke.  They kicked him out of the system and refused to pay for anything after October 2008.  Still fighting with them.  His career department has been unwilling to accomodate his extended light duty so they moved him to 911 communications and docked his pay $14,000 a year.

 

Needless to say, he is struggling physically and we are both struggling mentally and financially.  Looking for support, encouragement, resources . . . whatever you can offer.

 

(date on attached photo is wrong. . . didn't get camera date reset when the batteries died :-)  )

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First off its a hard road. Been there and still navigate it. Work comp doesnt pay unless you make them. Get a lawyer is my best advice.

Then find ways of decreasing your expenses and learn to use social services available. Sometimes a pantry visit once a month helps. Dont be too proud to get or ask for help. You have paid it forward in kindness and deeds for years.

Yuo both need to also seek assistance and moral support of others in your situation so you learn coping skills for the hurdles on this road. There are many chaplains and other on here who have struggled with this.

Some of the 9/11 sick responders might know a few things from fighting workers comp.

DONT GIVE UP and dont feel like its hopeless.

I will write you off forum for some additional suggestions because sometimes even the rescue workers needs a helping hand.

oh and try to laugh daily, its a good healthy pick me up.
Thank you. We do have an attorney, but it is a slow going road. Our main focus has just been to get him better. Good news is that it at least looks like he will get released to full duty in another month or so. That would mean reinstatement of his pay. We are trying to cut expenses and make due where we can. Outside of public safety there just aren't many who understand.

I appreciate the support.
I have to concur with Kali and Ralph,

His fulltime FF job doesn't need to carry him or move him to light duty for an injury that occurred outside of his full-time department. Let's say he broke his back skiing. Most departments would carry him until his vacation, and sick time expired. Then he would be unfit for duty.

But your husband should have been covered under workmans compensation while working as a volunteer firefighter. He should have been covered for his injuries occurred, hospital bills and 60% of his salary from all jobs in which he was employed at, (that paid into WC)

I have seen firefighters who worked at two jobs (that both paid into WC) get their 60% from both jobs during the disability.

Time to lawyer up.
My wife injured her back(L4,L5) 3 years ago lifting a patient. We feel your pain. Workman's Comp is not on the side of the injured party. Realistically, the employer doesn't have a say either. F-ing insurance companies. They get richer while the sick and injured get poor. I totally sympathize. TCSS
We do have a work comp attorney. The system just takes forever to work through. Almost two years now and still no light at the end of the tunnel.

I guess a few things I probably could have explained better in regards to his career department. While I agree that a paycheck is better than no check, and he is lucky to have a job at all, it was more the way it was handled. There have been SEVERAL other firefighters who have had off duty injuries that have been allowed to do light duty with the career department while staying on the fire department side with full pay. My husband tried to be good employee by letting them know how long he expected to be on light duty even though by rights all he had to give them was his light duty release and next appointment date.

There is also an issue with the fact that his career department has a fit for duty test (but no policy) that is administered at random and that both the department and the doctor involved will admit they make up as they go along depending on the individual and the injury. Some people don't have to take it at all, some only take part, and my husband is one of only two that was required to take it all. Their doctor saw him in October 2008, when work comp was trying to release him, and despite my husband's complaints of continued pain, released him back to full duty. That killed any further medical care from work comp and my husband continued to work from October 2008 to March 2009 before an MRI revealled the 8 compression fractures. We don't know how much additional damage was done from that.

We are thankful that he is expected to be returned to full duty despite the extensive amount of fusion. And, we are still trudging along with work comp. Our attorney has been great but it is a long road. Also, I don't know how it works in other states, but in Missouri, work comp does NOT have to make up the difference with your full time job if you are injured on your part time job and a volunteer is only allowed to draw $40 a week. That was probably the biggest blow to us mentally. He had enough sick leave with his career department that we did not initially loose his primary paycheck, but with both of us involved in public safety, we kind of had the mistaken notion that you get hurt, the system works to get you better, and you go back to work. We never DREAMED that it was as complicated as it has been.
That's been a lot of the problem we have run into. The community he volunteers for is small and the area is rural. They were ignorant (in the uneducated sense) as to their rights as the employer and deffered to the insurance company who has walked all over them and essentially us (for the time being). It took 7 days after he was transported to the ER via ambulance to get a follow up visit with a doctor. And that was only after repeated phone calls. My husband has been into weight lifting pretty well all of his teenage to adult life. We found out at the follow up visit that with the severity of concussion that he had ANY physical exertion could have led to bleeding on the brain. That was pretty scary to me since I had been arguing with him about working any of the stiffness out. They even had the nerve at a deposition to imply that since he was just a volunteer he had the choice not to respond that day and therefore wouldn't have gotten hurt.

I hope your wife was able to finally get relief. I have watched my husband and don't know how anyone deals with that kind of pain from day to day, everyday. I'm not sure that anyone who has not been through the stress and hassle really understands what all takes place.

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