La. Firefighters Could Gain New Role



Every day across Louisiana, firefighters are busy battling blazes and, in some cases, saving lives.

Soon, firefighters may take on a new role if lawmakers in Baton Rouge approve a new proposed bill.

“It would be firefighters practicing medicine without oversight … no oversight by the gubernatorial-approved EMS commission,” said Dr. Jullette M. Saussy.

Saussy heads up all emergency medical services in Orleans Parish. She said proposed House Bill 1030, written by state Rep. Karen St. Germain from the Baton Rouge area, makes all firefighters exempt from any medical or emergency oversight when they're at a scene.

What that means, she said, is that firefighters could give medical care and there wouldn't be anyone looking over their shoulder.

“I don't think a single person in Louisiana wants an unregulated person coming in their home and responding to a medical emergency,” Saussy said. “I think people expect us to oversee the quality of care they receive.”

The Louisiana State Firemen’s Association said Saussy is using scare tactics. Nick Felton, who represents the association in New Orleans, said that what the doctor is saying is “boogie man stuff, not fact.”

Felton went on to say that “the intent of the legislation is that we don't need the EMS board in on our discipline. A lot of the firefighters think they treat us like criminals, like we’re always wrong."

Felton said the bill has the utmost of every major Firemen’s Association in the state. Saussy hopes lawmakers vote it down.

“We're not really sure what they are thinking,” Saussy said. “They can't practice medicine in the state of Louisiana without answering to someone.”

The legislative sessions starts March 29.


Copyright 2010 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.