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Gazette Opinion: A shield for disaster volunteers

January 6, 2008
Billings Gazette

A report released last month by the Trust for America's Health argues for extending Good Samaritan laws so that they will cover health care professionals who volunteer in a disaster. In its fifth annual report on protecting the public's health from diseases, disasters and bioterrorism, the nonprofit group calls for state statutes to incorporate two key elements that would shield and encourage participation of volunteers in disaster response: A shield that is tied to a declared emergency. A process that allows medical and other health professionals to become designated as voluntary health care workers acting under specific emergency protocols. In their next sessions, the Montana and Wyoming legislatures should look carefully at the recommended disaster volunteer shield law. These are changes that will only help if made before disaster strikes.

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