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Will lawmakers make assault of emergency responders a felony?

While most people understand that firefighters and emergency medical personnel have inherently dangerous positions, they might not appreciate the extent of the hazards encountered by these brave men and women.

For instance, aside from extinguishing infernos and providing life-saving assistance to trauma victims, firefighters and paramedics often arrive at accident scenes prior to police officers, such that they run the risk of encountering a potentially dangerous -- or even deadly -- scenario.

In recognition of this reality, there is now a bill being considered in the General Assembly that would follow the lead of other states by enhancing the penalties for assault against a firefighter or paramedic.

House Bill 236, and its companion bill in the Senate, would essentially extend the level of protection currently available under Maryland law to police officers to these two types of emergency responders.

Specifically, HB 236, authored by Delegate Jay Jalisi, would make assault of a firefighter or paramedic, including volunteers, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.  

Proponents of the bill, including the International Association of Firefighters, argue that passage of the bill is an absolutely necessity given the simple reality that firefighters and paramedics do not have the luxury of walking away from those who could possibly cause them harm.

It remains to be seen whether Maryland will join the ranks of the other states in making assault of a firefighter or paramedic a felony. It should be noted, however, that a similar measure failed to make it out of committee last year.

Anyone facing charges for assault or any other crime should give serious consideration to speaking with an experienced legal professional as their reputation and their future is on the line.

Source: EMS1.com, "Md. bill would make medic assault a felony," Matthew Bieniek, Feb. 10, 2015

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