Senate and House budget negotiators agreed Wednesday on an appropriation for the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department’s Health and Wellness Center.
Sen. Aaron Bean and Rep. Wyman Duggan each sought $2.5 million in their respective funding requests. In the end, $1.25 million was the number agreed to by the House State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government.
A local match was contemplated in the funding request of $2.5 million.
The money, according to Bean’s funding request, will facilitate consolidation and expansion of the health and wellness services needed by these 1,600 first responders.
“The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) Health and Wellness Center will provide a central facility for four major health services: medical, fitness, injury/rehabilitation, and mental health. These services are collectively known as the JFRD Health and Wellness Program. Currently, the operations of the program are limited by the physical constraints of the building the services are performed in. This funding will allow JFRD to outfit a new location to consolidate and expand services,” the Bean proposal asserted.
First responders are on the front lines of health challenges, and the funding request denoted a specific need: “Outfitting the facility to provide radiology services including ultrasound, chest x-ray, and low-dose lung CT scans.”
Cardiac and cancer deaths are more prevalent by far among firefighters than the general population.
“According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, from 2002-2019, cancer caused 66% of line-of-duty deaths, and heart disease caused 18%,” read the Duggan funding request.
Ballard Partners’ Mathew Forrest was the lobbyist on record for this project.