The Ingham County Sheriff’s Office just lost a chunk of its volunteers and its caused the possible extinction of its heavy rescue unit.
“Unfortunately this was an unintended consequence of trying to do the right thing, specifically for the volunteers of this agency,” said Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth.
The Ingham County Sheriff’s Office once had 45 volunteers, but now they’re down to 30 since 15 people from the same unit decided to leave.
“The men that did heavy rescue gave a great service to the county,” said Wriggelsworth. “This was their decision to resign as a group, not anything that we wanted them to do.”
This all started back in January when a member of the volunteer heavy rescue unit was injured.
“While volunteering,” Wriggelsworth said. “He was actually hit while driving one of our cars by a semi.”
This accident shined a light on information that needed to be made clear for their volunteers.
Wriggelsworth said, “They need to understand that if you get injured while volunteering, I don’t think anybody expects whomever you are volunteering for to pay all of your medical bills or property damage bills or whatever the case may be.”
Wriggelsworth said their personal car or health insurance should be used first, “And then the county will take care of any incidental expenses when it comes to co-pays or deductibles or that kind of stuff.”
This is now all outlined and all their volunteers have to sign this form acknowledging this policy, but the volunteers with the heavy rescue unit isn’t signing it.
“Because there is too much risk or their personal automobile insure or their health insurance would have to take care of any injuries or damage that happens,” Wriggelsworth said. “I get it.”
The work the heavy rescue volunteers would do, including freeing people from their cars during an accident, Wriggelsworth said, “We’ll rely more on our partners throughout the county to do that so it’s still gonna get done it just might take a little bit longer.”