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Bill introduced could help cover part of a first responder's college tuition

Bill introduced could help cover part of a first responder's college tuition

Recently, Senator Brett Lindstrom of Omaha introduced a bill in the legislature. Lindstrom said it would waive 30 percent of a first responder's in-state tuition at any of the state or community colleges.

Hastings Fire Chief Kent Gilbert said Nebraska firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians put their lives at risk every day in order to keep the community safe.

“They work across a lot variety of situations that most people aren’t really aware of and the things that they do are varied. Some days they might be dealing with a chemical, and other days you might be dealing with a medical issue,” Gilbert said.

However, Gilbert said it's not that easy to do their jobs. He said these workers should be getting help to pay for their training because most firefighters are paying out of their own pockets.

“They have to pay out of pocket to complete the training, and the only other way you can assist in an ambulance or work in an ambulance is if you are properly trained and licensed,” Gilbert said.

He said this education can help them continue being safe in their everyday jobs.

“An educated employee is the safest employee. They understand the dangers and the hazards, so yes it is a necessary thing, and I think it would be good,” Gilbert said.

He said this financial help would help first responders continue their mission to serve and protect the public.

“Being able to remove the financial restrictions or that roadblock doesn’t solve the entire problem, but it does make it better,” Gilbert said.

If the bill passes, first responders would be eligible for the waiver for up to five years.

Gilbert said there are only three schools in Nebraska that offer Associated Degree training for firefighters, but says this bill could encourage other schools to offer training.

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