Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,Ref-Mahopac) is pleased to report that after much advocacy from front line public workers and his colleagues in the Assembly, early Friday morning he voted in favor of and helped pass legislation (A.10528) to ensure that families of municipal front-line workers who lost their lives to COVID-19 as a result of their service receive the accidental death benefits they are rightfully entitled to. Assemblyman Byrne was a cosponsor of a similar bill (A.10523) and has been advocating for the need to provide a death benefit to hard working front-line workers exposed to the virus such as police, firefighters and especially emergency medical first responders.
“Despite increased risk to their own health and safety, our front line workers continue to answer the call to serve. Many of the residents of Westchester & Putnam continue to work in New York City and the surrounding areas as emergency first responders. It has been reported that the FDNY EMS already lost five of their own members to this awful virus, and it’s only right their loss be appropriately recognized for what it is: a line of duty death. Nothing can bring back a person who has died from COVID-19, but we can help by having their deaths classified appropriately to better assist their families in getting the benefits they deserve,” said Byrne. “I’d like to thank the sponsor, Government Employees Committee Chairman Assemblyman Peter Abbate for introducing this legislation. The language in this legislation covers a large list of public employees who deserve these benefits, but I am especially grateful to see it will now ensure that these benefits are afforded to the families of our emergency first responders who died from the virus they were exposed to while caring for patients during the pandemic.”
In a previous statement from a release issued by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblyman Abbate said, “While many employers are making arrangements for workers to telecommute rather than risking illness, workers like emergency medical personnel, firefighters, police officers, sanitation workers, transit workers and many others have continued to show up every day. And for their service, many have paid the ultimate price. This legislation ensures that their families are afforded the benefits they deserve for their unimaginable loss.”
Prior to serving in the Assembly, Byrne worked and volunteered as an EMT in both Westchester and Putnam counties. He has since repeatedly demonstrated his understanding of the risks to exposure that these brave men and women take when they respond to emergencies, and he continues to serve as a strong advocate for all first responders in New York.
“This legislation was essential for all our emergency first responders, but also to all our other public employees who continue to work throughout this pandemic.” said Byrne.