Tom Waring, the Wire
In conjunction with National Police Week, state Reps. Frank Farry and Gene DiGirolamo introduced legislation to authorize paramedics to conduct blood draws on behalf of municipal police departments in alleged driving under the influence cases.
Under current law, paramedics are authorized to exercise their skills only under emergency 911 situations or when conducting a routine ambulance transport.
“The Officer Brian Gregg Act will allow paramedics to use their skills to assist our local police with timely blood draws if and when a paramedic is available,” Farry said. “When presented, this option will help alleviate some of the wait time for obtaining crucial test results and reduce the number of times offenders are in the public emergency room.”
Currently, when police officers arrest an individual for suspicion of driving under the influence, the officer will take the suspect to the hospital to have his or her blood drawn for a blood alcohol content test.
“Too often, officers have to travel to the hospital after an arrest for blood to be drawn in a hospital emergency room,” DiGirolamo said. “This can increase the time an officer is unavailable and raise the likelihood of an unsafe situation occurring in a public setting. In some cases, this practice can prove tragic.”
Bensalem Township Police Department Director of Public Safety Frederick Harran said the legislation will assist police in a variety of DUI cases.
“This bill will allow police to do their job more safely and efficiently by helping to prevent people from driving on roadways in the commonwealth under the influence of alcohol and under the influence of controlled substances like opioids,” he said.
House Bill 2058 is named after Newtown Borough Police Officer Brian Gregg, who was shot and killed at St. Mary Medical Center after a suspect was able to gain possession of his partner’s weapon while undergoing blood and urine tests following a drunken driving arrest. Gregg’s partner and an emergency room technician were also shot.