Search and rescue workers in Idaho could soon receive immunity from lawsuits while on the job.
Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, pitched a plan to give search and rescue workers immunity from lawsuits in a presentation to the House State Affairs Committee Thursday. Killen said the protection would aid in the process of recruiting and retention for search and rescue programs and would allow county sheriffs to designate which search and rescue teams would receive the protection based on which teams are used by respective counties.
Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, expressed concern about the bill's language, saying that he doesn't want just anyone who is not properly trained "willy-nilly doing things to me." He said that while in times of tragedy citizens often feel the need to step up and help out, he doesn't want untrained workers protected by the bill.
Killen assured Andrus that only trained personnel would receive immunity from his legislation, and "not just individuals showing up in the woods." He added that only groups "on call" by a county sheriff's office would be granted protection.
Though Killen didn't make it clear at the hearing Thursday, the protection offered would only be if search and rescue workers were executing their duties in a responsible manner. Killen's bill would likely not protect workers who cause additional injury to victims as a result of negligence or reckless behavior. Idaho has similar statutes protecting emergency personnel in the state under the same guidelines. (Those protections could be offered to out-of-state emergency personnel; read about it here.)
The bill was introduced on a unanimous vote by committee members and will receive a full committee hearing next week.
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