Fire Fighter Gives Impassioned Plea For Better Health Benefits

By Kayla Moody

Published 01/27 2014 11:22PM

Updated 01/27 2014 11:32PM

Shawn Oglesby doesn't know what caused him to have a life-threatening allergic reaction, but doctors tell him it's a miracle he survived. The Evansville fire fighter went before Evansville City Council Monday night with an impassioned plea to provide better health benefits to those working in public safety.

Oglesby says he had a medical emergency on a fire truck last June while responding to a fire. He spent several days in the hospital recovering and his treatment was costly. The 25-year EFD veteran says he was told to file for workers' compensation -- but the city's third party insurance administrator denied his claim.

Monday Oglesby asked council members to consider terminating that company's contract and pick up a company that will better protect first responders who put their lives on the line every day.

"This is workman's comp. There's no doubt. I was on a fire truck. I was prepared to fight a fire if necessary, risk my life to save someone or their property when this happened to me," said Oglesby.

Council members showed overwhelming support for Oglesby. Many appeared appalled that his claim was denied. "If this claim was denied by a fire fighter who was definitely at work, was on a run, how is that any less of a workmans comp claim than, say, a guy who gets backed over by a dump truck," asked Councilman Al Lindsey, D-Ward 6.

"I just don't understand that. That does not make sense to me," said Dr. H. Dan Adams, D-At Large.

Oglesby told council members he knows of at least two other Evansville fire fighters whose claims were initially denied, but were granted compensation after litigation. He said one fire fighter was bitten by a dog while working inside a smoke-filled home. The other, was working a fire when a ceiling collapsed on top of him.

Councilwoman Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley, D-Ward 3, asked the city's administrative services director to provide the council with data detailing how many workers' compensation claims had been denied but later granted after litigation. Council members said they would look into that data to see if there is anything they can do.

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