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Barickman sponsors safety legislation for 1st responders

Being a first responder is a dangerous duty and State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) wants to find ways to make the roads a little safer for men and women who must respond to emergencies.

"There have been far too many cases where police, firefighters and others have been injured or killed while performing their duties on the Interstates and state highways," Barickman said. "In our area, we are most familiar with the death of Pontiac Police Officer Casey Kohlmeier. But unfortunately, Casey's death was not an isolated incident. In recent years several first responders have been killed or seriously injured in similar incidents."

Barickman is co-sponsoring Senate Joint Resolution 62 to create a special Emergency Responder Roadway Safety Task Force to identify and recommend ways that Illinois can reduce the risks for police, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders when working on Illinois highways and roads.

The resolution specifically cites the case of Kohlmeier, as well as Hudson Firefighter Chris Brown, who was killed on March 5, 2013, while working at the scene of a motor vehicle collision.

In addition, at least two Illinois State Troopers have been killed in recent years, responding to calls on Interstate 55 – Trooper Kyle Deatherage in 2012 and Trooper Brian McMillen in 2007. Also, six volunteer firefighters from Loami were injured in 2004, one critically, when they were struck while trying to help jump start a vehicle at the scene of a fire call.

The legislation would create a 17-member advisory group comprised of one representative of the Illinois State Police; two from the Illinois Department of Transportation; nine representatives of fire, police and medical services from small, mid-size and large population areas; and a representative of the towing industry. Legislators from each of the four major caucuses would round out the panel. The committee would be required to submit recommendations to the General Assembly by next January.