HARRISBURG – Local Emergency Coordinators would receive emergency responder status, enabling them to do their job more efficiently and safely, under a bill approved recently by the Senate.
Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), who heads the Senate Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee, sponsored the legislation after she was contacted by a local emergency coordinator from a small municipality in Wyoming County. He experienced difficulty traveling to many emergencies and disasters because he could not use outward markings on his personal vehicle to identify himself.
“Local Emergency Coordinators play a key role in assisting municipal officials and county emergency management coordinators in responding to natural disasters and emergencies,” Baker said. “However, because they are not currently designated as emergency responders, they cannot use auditory or visual vehicle warning signals. This is a safety hazard for the coordinators as well as to other drivers whom they encounter enroute to the emergency or disaster location.”
She said SB 1121 will give local emergency coordinators legal authority to use “visual and audible signals” provided to other emergency vehicles – including county emergency Coordinators who already have received this designation.
Current state law requires all 2,566 of Pennsylvania’s municipalities to have local emergency coordinators who are confirmed by gubernatorial appointment. Baker said providing Local Emergency Coordinators with emergency responder status will enable them to respond more effectively to emergencies and improve public safety.
“No longer is emergency management seen to be a distant responsibility that is relegated to professional police, fire, and emergency service departments,” Baker said. “Americans now recognize that first responders are just that – those who respond first to manmade or natural disasters seeking to bring order to what are otherwise chaotic scenes. Particularly in rural Pennsylvania, during the onset of local emergencies and disasters, our local emergency coordinators often travel onsite acting as the initial eyes and ears as requested by municipal officials, county emergency management coordinator, or state officials.
Baker’s district includes all of Pike, Wayne, and Wyoming counties and parts of Luzerne, Monroe and Susquehanna counties.
Contact: Brian Grove