Volunteer firefighters now have some health benefits

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 27, 2016

Thursday, for the first time in several years, fire chiefs from throughout Pearl River County met for an informational session with Pearl River County Emergency Management Director and Fire Services Coordinator Danny Manley.
There are 14 fire departments, including the ones in Picayune and Poplarville, and 12 district departments throughout the county. Most of the departments are manned by volunteers, Manley said Friday.
A highlight of the meeting was the announcement regarding Teledoc service, Manley said.
“This is the first time we have been able to offer medical benefits to our volunteer firefighters,” he said. “They can call and talk to a doctor, describe the symptoms and get a prescription. If they lose their medication, they can call and have the doctor prescribe it again. It saves them a trip to the doctor.”
Teledoc is made possible through a grant from the Mississippi Insurance Department, Manley said. It will cost firefighters $15 per year, he said.
“It was worked on by the State Fire Commissioner Mike Chaney,” Manley said, “to show appreciation and help with recruitment and retention.”
Manley also mentioned the creation of a new program where all fire reports for the volunteer fire departments will be typed up by county employees.
Employees will utilize the dispatch consoles to ascertain the details, type it up and send it to the National Incident Fire Response System, Manley said.
“It’s a huge deal,” he said. “When a firefighter fights fires for three hours, he’s tired, sweaty and full of smut and would have to sit down and write a report. Now, that will all be done on the county level.”
In July 2015, the county purchased portable digital radios for the firefighters and Manley said they worked flawlessly during Tuesday’s severe weather.
“We had signal in areas where we didn’t before,” he said. “To have communications, that’s a really good thing. We were able to alert our firefighters to get out of harm’s way before another storm cell came.”

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