As a former police chief and employee of the American Red Cross, state Rep. Jim Rigby (R-Johnstown) knows the challenges emergency responders face.
“If our system of emergency response breaks down, we have a true crisis on our hands,” said Rigby. “In our time of need, we assume someone will come when we call, just as we assume water will flow when we turn on a faucet.”
Rigby is a member of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, which has advanced a significant package of legislation designed to address many of the needs of fire companies and emergency medical service (EMS) groups.
“The focus of the bills is recruitment, retention and respect,” Rigby added. “There are approximately 37,000 volunteer emergency responders in Pennsylvania. That number approached 300,000 in the 1970s.
“We need to give our responders tools that will help them to recruit and retain new members, in addition to show respect for their hard work and sacrifice.”
Subjects of the bills range from tuition assistance and college loan forgiveness for volunteers to expanding access to and use of existing funds.
“The statewide estimate of what it would cost if we had to pay for the existing level of volunteer firefighting response we receive is $10 billion,” Rigby said. “The legislation we hope to pass is a long overdue investment in our future.”
Representative Jim Rigby
71st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Scott B. Little
717.260.6137 (office), 717.497.5967 (cell)