New bill proposed to help injured TX first responders

New bill proposed to help injured TX first responders
Ofc. Justin Scherlen, Source: KFDA
Ofc. Justin Scherlen, Source: KFDA
Sgt. Houston Gass, Source: KFDA
Sgt. Houston Gass, Source: KFDA

LUBBOCK, TX (KFDA) - Some area law enforcement officers have played a big role in the filing of a new state bill meant to better assist first responders who are hurt while on duty.

House Bill 1688 proposes a state liaison be established for first responders who need help with medical care and worker's compensation if they're harmed doing their jobs.

St. Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) reached out to lots of officers and their family members for input.

He believes a state liaison for injured law enforcement would help them through the insurance and medical filings necessary during their recovery process.

"I want to know somebody who actually has experience in this, who can help navigate our guys so when somebody is in the hospital on the first or second day after something bad has happened there's somebody there to kind of help them and guide them through the process," said Burrows. "[Someone] to make sure they're getting the things they need working and going through all of the different speed bumps there may be to getting better."

Sgt. Houston Gass with the Pampa Police Department was one of the people who helped Burrows shape this bill.

He was shot in the face while on duty, requiring several surgeries.

Gass said he was lucky to have great insurance to help him out, and hopes others can say the same.

"I know several officers who have been denied time after time after time," said Gass. "I'm friends with a lot of these guys and it's really an undue hardship."

Officer Justin Scherlen, who was injured in a car wreck while on duty, died this past summer nearly a year after the accident.

His wife Jessica said a liaison would have been helpful in his situation.

"I think Justin, had the medication been approved for him, I don't think he would have had to spend 30 days in the hospital two weeks before he died," she said.

Gass and Scherlen hope this proposal can help first responders all across the state.

"This is the best thing that any representative or any senator in the state of Texas has ever done for first responders."

If the bill passes, first responders would start seeing changes on September 1st.

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