It was a conversation between a grandfather and his grandson that spurred a Democrat lawmaker from Cleveland to champion a bill calling for a day designated to honor the state’s everyday heroes.
The effort — initiated by Rep. Bill Patmon and his grandson Daniel — came a step closer to being last week, as the Ohio House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 44, which names May 24 First Responders’ Appreciation Day.
Daniel told members of the State & Local Government Committee during a hearing that he had witnessed a near-miss collision between a car and an ambulance one day on his trip home from school.
“I thought of the danger these men and women face every day,” he said in testimony.
The youth said he noticed a license plate commemorating the sacrifices of American veterans of war and wondered about a way to honor first responders.
“I asked my grandfather if there was a day to honor our first responders, and he said, ‘No,’” Daniel continued. “I asked, ‘Why not?’
“Then we decided to have the bill drafted and that is how we got here today.”
HB 44 notes that the special designation of the day honors first responders, who are identified as individuals who risk their own safety on a daily basis in the execution of their duties to protect the public.
“Quite simply, they’re the people you see running in when everyone else is running out,” the elder Patmon said. “First responders are people who show up in the face of danger and natural disaster because they are committed to serving others.
“Every community, from the largest metropolitan area to the smallest rural town, depends on their first responders to save lives and keep the peace during emergencies ranging from a medical call involving one victim, to large-scale disasters that affect entire states for months.”
The lawmaker likened his legislative effort to those enacted in 19 other states and, at least, a couple of Ohio communities.
More than a dozen fellow House members signed on to HB 44 as cosponsors, joining the state’s fire chief association and northeast Ohio hospital to endorse the measure.
“First Responders’ Appreciation Day recognizes that each emergency service agency and discipline indistinguishably operates as a unified response entity that serves the interests of the public,” the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association previously wrote in support of the bill. “This specific distinction is notable from other days of distinction.
“Ohio’s fire and emergency service leadership appreciates the recognition extended to our partners in public service.”
Kelly Romito, spokesperson for Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls, said recognition of first responders’ commitment is a good idea.
“First responders put their lives on the line 365 days per year to protect our communities,” Romito said. “Our first responders in the state of Ohio continuously work to protect and serve citizens in the event of emergency and natural disaster.
“When the public’s safety is at risk, first responders act to execute their duties in the face of danger.”
The bill awaits a determination by the Ohio Senate whether to take up the legislation.