And Kathy Doench’s opinion, it is a good first step to getting the assistance she feels firefighters need and deserve.
Doench’s husband, Daniel, was a volunteer firefighter with the Linton Fire Department until August of 2000. It was at that time that her husband suffered what would prove to be a career and life-threatening injury.
It was in that month that Daniel and other firefighters in the Linton community were fighting an arson forest fire. It was a 100-degree day, according to Doench, and while fighting the fire, Daniel experienced extreme heat stroke. This caused his brain to reach temperatures of 105 degrees, she said.
At that temperature, brain damage is almost inevitable and Daniel now suffers from several permanent disabilities caused by the fire. He has trouble speaking and carrying on conversation as well as doing menial tasks, like operating a stapler.
It was over the course of the couple’s search for medical attention and guidance that Doench realized the lack of assistance that was available to volunteer firefighters. And that is because, in her words, there simply wasn’t any.
So Kathy took it upon herself to seek out the guidance and assistance to do something at the state level, even though she says it is too late for her husband. She is now pursuing a bill that will create a committee to research and report their findings of assistance that may be available for volunteers. The committee, should the bill be passed, would report findings by December 1.
"I’m hoping this is a first step and (legislators) see the problems," Doench said.
Doench said her family has gone through a grueling fight for financial assistance to pay for Daniel’s $3,000 monthly medical bills. She said doctors have been less-than friendly when hearing her husband’s situation.
When Doench first brought her bill to The Cadiz Record for review, she was fairly optimistic about the readability of the bill and its details. However, after she read it several more times, she said it reads more like a "study" rather than hard legislation. And as her presentation day draws near, she is still looking for the help she needs.
"I’m still trying to get the Kentucky Firefighters Association behind me," she said. "I don’t know why but they haven’t been cued in on all this."
The committee that is to be appointed if the bill were accepted, will consist of: the chairman of the Seniors, Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee of the House, chairman of the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee of the Senate, one member other than the chairmen of the Veteran’s, Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee of the Senate, one member other than the chairman of the Seniors, Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee in the House, one representative from both the Kentucky Professional Firefighter’s Association and Kentucky Firefighter’s Association, a professional firefighter and an active volunteer firefighter as well as the executive director of the Commission on Fire Protection, Personnel, Standards and Education.
Specifically, this committee will be dubbed a "task force" that will "examine existing benefits for firefighters in the Commonwealth who are killed or disabled in the line of duty and the difficulties, if any, of discovering or accessing these benefits.
They will then report their findings to the Legislative Research Commission.
But for Doench and all the other 17,000 volunteers in the state, finding someone that will listen seems to be the biggest goal.
"I hope a lot of people get behind this," she said. "I need all the people I can to get behind me."
Currently there is a support fund set up with Integra Bank under the Daniel Doench Fund. Contributions are always welcome, she said.