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Friday, February 15, 2008

Allegany County Fighting Benefits For Dead Firefighter

By Brian Quinn

Daily Reporter

BELMONT - A judge from Rochester will decide if a Wellsville firefighter who died trying to save other people in the Genesee River is eligible for his family to receive benefits.

Douglas Dillon, executive secretary for the Allegany County Mutual Self-Insurance Plan, gave the Allegany County Personnel Committee an update on a claim the county self-insurance department controverted.

It stemmed from the death of Ronald Thomas, a town of Wellsville volunteer firefighter, who died April 29, 2007, trying to save lives during the Great Wellsville Trout Derby. While fishing in the event, a man had fallen over a small falls into a vortex — a spinning, whirlpool effect in the Genesee River. The man’s son went in to try ands save him, others went in and Thomas went in to save them.

The initial cause of death was ruled accidental drowning and there reportedly was question about whether Thomas died in the line of duty as a firefighter.
Dillon, who did not identify Thomas, said an administrative law judge out of Rochester is considering a death benefits claim.

“Both sides have submitted their paperwork to the judge,” Dillon said. “Testimony has been taken.”

Dillon said any ruling the judge makes could be appealed to a three-member panel. He said that panel’s decision could be appealed to the Court of Appeals. An appeal from there would go to state Supreme Court.

However, Dillon said the appeals process is not as long as it used to be.

“Normally, claims of controversy are settled three to six months after,” Dillon said. “It’s rare that we would carry this on to the court of appeals.”

Outside of the meeting, Dillon said, “There’s significant death benefits here. They’re set by law and the law changed in July.”

To see this article and picture in the Wellsville Daily Reporter along with other comments published there click this link.

Comment from:
James Jones-Roulette, PA
2008-02-15T19:37:42

As a former Bolivar firefighter, now living across the border in Pennsylvania, I know the kind of time that firefighters and ambulance volunteers put in. People from our department practically lived their lives to give service to others in case of emergency. If they are not fighting fire, attending to the sick and injured, they are working to raise funds to keep their departments going.

When the siren blows, they leave work to man their volunteer firefighter and ambulance duties, often at a loss of pay to them and their families.

There is no official time on duty, as they will be there when duty calls.

This firefighter obviously was responding to the call of his fellow man when he lost his life.

When you consider the cost to pay benefits to his family, also consider the cost of hiring paid personnel to man the fire stations. There is no question in my mind where the savings is. If this claim is denied, every firefighter and ambulance volunteer should take a very hard look at whether or not their services are appreciated.

I am still a taxpayer in Allegany County and a life member of the Bolivar Fire Department----PAY THE BENEFITS--It's a bargain.

1 comment :

Mandy said...

James,

As I was reading your post about this fireman and his loss of life, it brought to mind an article that I had previously read. It's about an ambulance driver, but the concept is pretty much the same.

The Life of EMS Personnel

Standing in chest deep water, freezing rain falling and stinging as it hits the exposed parts of my body. Holding her head above water to keep her from drowning until rescue could get there to cut her free---
BUT I'M JUST AN AMBULANCE DRIVER

Comforting a 89-year-old woman who just watched me and my partner cover the face of her husband of 64 years as he lay dead in their bathroom floor---
BUT I'M JUST AN AMBULANCE DRIVER

On scene at an MVA with a mom trapped upside down in her car and her dead son's body laying on top of her, without a second thought for my own safety, I crawl into the wreckage to take C-spine control and calm the frantic lady---BUT I'M JUST AN AMBULANCE DRIVER

Called away from my just prepared meal to respond to the middle of nowhere to a house with No numbers, No porch light on, Nobody waiting to signal us in and they complain because we took too long only to find out the patient left P.O.V ten minutes ago...so we smile and walk away from the verbal lashing only because we are
JUST AMBULANCE DRIVERS

Standing in the middle of the street at midnight on the wrong side of town trying to patch the holes and stop the bleeding of a 19-year-old shooting victim. With the occasional bullet wizzing past our heads, we never break stride because this kid's life is in our hands---BUT I'M JUST AN AMBULNCE DRIVER

Doing chest compressions on a 16-year-old girl who decided this life was more than she could take. Her family screaming at us to help as though we are the ones who did this to her. Her lifeless body flailing about as the tube goes in and the IV's being started. My arms and back are burning from the pain of 30 minutes of CPR, never once giving up, hoping she would make it through and overcome whatever lead her to this bad decision----BUT I'M JUST AN AMBULANCE DRIVER

Death is all around me and still I go home to live my life.

I get kicked, hit, spit on, bled on, puked on...

I look into the eyes of a lifeless child at 7am and by 8am, I'm holding my child a little tighter and they know nothing about what happened...

I have hundreds of hours of classroom time...

Years of in-the-field experience...

I have challenged death and won...

I've helped the helpless...

I've neglected my family for yours...

I find comfort in complete chaos...

I eat cold meals if I eat at all...

I work with no sleep for days at a time...

I miss birthdays, holidays and school functions...

I put myself in harm's way for a total stranger on a daily basis...

ALL BECAUSE I AM JUST AN AMBULANCE DRIVER

I AM AN AMBULANCE DRIVER!!! I DRIVE 90 MPH THROUGH CONGESTED TRAFFIC FULL OF PEOPLE WHO REFUSE TO YIELD THE RIGHT OF WAY WHILE MY PARTNER STANDS UNRESTRAINED IN THE BACK OF THIS SCREAMING LAND MISSLE SAVING YOUR LOVED ONES LIFE!! NEVER ONCE DOES HE QUESTION MY DRIVING...HE KNOWS THAT AT THE END OF THIS SHIFT HE WILL GO HOME TO HIS FAMILY SAFELY BECAUSE I AM AN AMBULANCE DRIVER....

If you know anyone who works or volunteers in EMS, please thank them. And remember no matter what, they will always be there for you in your time of need!!!!!!!!!!!!!!