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A Firefighter Privacy Protection Bill Heads To Senate Thanks To A Evansville Firefighter


A Firefighter Privacy Protection Bill Heads To The Senate Thanks To A Evansville Firefighter

On June 12, 2021, Jonathan Wright, a private in the Evansville Fire Department, was attacked while on a medic run.

Wright said the individual that the fire department was responding to had overdosed on heroin and was given two doses of Narcan prior to their arrival. The computer on the rescue vehicle was down at the time, so they weren’t provided that information.

“On an unassuming day and what we believe to be an unassuming call, my family’s life was flipped upside down,” Wright said in the Senate Local Government Committee Thursday. The committee discussed House Bill 1578, which “protects the privacy of Hoosier firefighters,” said the author of the bill, Rep. Timothy O’Brien, R-Evansville.

The individual Wright and his crew were responding to stabbed Wright in the face with a large kitchen knife.

Pictured: Jonathan Wright, a private in the Evansville Fire Department, testifies in favor of HB 1578 before the Senate Local Government Committee. Wright gave an emotional testimony, sharing his story of being attacked on the job. The bill passed 10-0. Photo by Xain Ballenger, TheStatehouseFile.com

He also attempted to stab Wright in the chest but failed after being subdued by Wright and a member of his crew. Wright said the individual tried again to stab another firefighter while refusing to give up the knife.

Wright said he became a firefighter to serve his community and to “prevent the loss of life within it.” He chose this career over law enforcement because of his time “behind the trigger” while serving in the military.

He said he wanted to leave the “violence of humanity” behind him but he was thrust back into the “sad reality”—and that firefighters are not immune to situations that cause immense stress and trauma.

“My wounds have all been healed from that day, and even though I’m reminded every time I look in the mirror, I myself have moved on from it. However, I will not forget the sheer panic and worry that I could see in both my daughters as well as my wife’s eyes,” Wright said.

O’Brien said the bill would add firefighters, both paid and volunteer, to the list of people who can conceal their personal information on public data websites.

Wright was fearful of a follow-up attack and tried to have his address withheld from public record, but his request was denied due to current statute.

Wright said in his testimony that firemen can be away from their homes for at least 24 hours, and under current law, his residence and other properties could easily be found on a county assessor’s website as public records.

“I’d like to believe that these new rules, were they put in place, would help to protect and give peace of mind to future victims and their families,” Wright said.

The bill passed the Senate Local Government Committee unanimously, with Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores, and Sen. Rodney Pol, D-Portage, asking to be added as sponsors of the bill.

It heads to the full Senate next.

FOOTNOTE: Xain Ballenger is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.