Ambulance group honors Sen. Leahy

Monday October 25, 2010

BENNINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy is being recognized by the Vermont Ambulance Association for his work on legislation named after a local EMT who died in the line of duty last year.

Jim Finger, president of the Vermont Ambulance Association, said the organization has awarded Leahy, a Democrat, the Vermont Ambulance Association Legislative Recognition Award. The state group’s recognition comes on the heels of the 2010 Legislator of the Year award the American Ambulance Association presented Leahy in May.

Finger said Leahy "is a true friend of Vermont Emergency Medical Services and the patients we all serve." The award is not presented annually, only when a lawmaker goes "above and beyond," according to Finger.

Leahy is being recognized for his "relentless dedication" to bringing the families of Vermont emergency rescue personnel federal death benefits, Finger said.

Current law provides death benefits to emergency medical personnel who work for a government rescue agency. Leahy has sponsored and aggressively pursued legislation to extend benefits to the families of non-governmental personnel as well.

Leahy has introduced the Dale Long Emergency Medical Service Providers Protection Act , named after Dale Long, who was driving a Bennington Rescue ambulance when it crashed in June 2009, killing Long. The legislation has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee headed by Leahy and is awaiting consideration by the full Senate.

"I know how hard he and his staff are working on it," Finger said. "He deserves the credit for all the hard work he’s been doing on these bills."

Leahy’s legislation would change the rules of federal Public Safety Officers Benefits (PSOB) program, under which Long’s family is not eligible for benefits. The bill would qualify an additional 1,200 Vermont EMS personnel -- and thousands across the country -- who work for nonprofit organizations like the Bennington Rescue Squad for PSOB program benefits.

"We believe that the senator has worked very hard, not to mention that every year he’s very supportive every year," Finger said. "This time he’s gone above and beyond."

Leahy said Monday that he is honored by the recognition.

"Vermont has an enduring history of neighbor helping neighbor. And today, when there’s a car accident, a three-alarm house fire, or emergency relief duty after a natural disaster, Vermonters always stand ready to answer the call," Leahy said.

"Dale Long’s service was a credit to that tradition. I consider this award a great honor, and I am pleased that it calls attention to people like Dale Long -- the brave men and women who work and volunteer in towns, villages, and cities all over the Green Mountain State. They are Vermonters who put their lives on the line each and every day to help others."

Finger said Leahy is also a co-sponsor of the Medicare Ambulance Preservation Act and a strong advocate for EMS on Capitol Hill.

Contact Neal P. Goswami at


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