Paramedics, EMTs Could Get Public-Records Exemption

Jan 19, 2016
Originally published on January 19, 2016 9:06 am

Florida senators this week could approve a bill that would create a public-records exemption for information about paramedics and emergency-medical technicians.

The Senate on Friday took up the bill (SB 320), filed by Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, and could vote on it during a floor session Thursday. The bill would prevent the release of records that include personal information, such as home addresses, telephone numbers and photographs, of current and former paramedics and emergency-medical technicians.

Also, the bill includes an exemption for information about spouses and children of paramedics and EMTs. The bill says paramedics and EMTs face the possibility of being physically harmed or stalked because of the nature of their jobs.

"Emergency medical technicians or paramedics are public safety officers whose duties as first responders to accidents and life-threatening events often place them in traumatic circumstances in which loss of life and severe bodily injuries have occurred,'' the bill says. "They often deal with violent, angry, or mentally unstable individuals."

The bill faces opposition, however, from the Tallahassee-based First Amendment Foundation, which closely tracks public-records and open-government issues.

A similar House bill (HB 391), filed by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, has been approved by one House subcommittee.

Disclosure: The News Service of Florida is a member of the First Amendment Foundation.

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