Lawmaker wants tougher penalties for interfering with paramedics

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A Minnesota state representative says he'll push for tougher penalties for anyone who interferes with ambulance crews or other medical personnel.

Republican Pat Garofalo of Farmington was not specific about what he'll propose when the Legislature returns to St. Paul in March, but said in a statement: "Under this proposal, there will be zero tolerance for jeopardizing public safety. Zero. "

The issue moved into a limelight last month during protests that followed the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark during a struggle with Minneapolis police.

The officers involved said they arrived to find Clark interfering with an ambulance crew that was working to treat an assault victim.

Garofalo told the Associated Press "local events were the tipping point" but not the full impetus for the measure he will call the Public Safety Personnel Protection Act.

Minnesota has a regulatory board that oversees laws applying to emergency medical services, including requirements for ambulance services.

There are also protocols for managing cases in which emergency medical personnel are exposed to blood or infectious disease.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health had the Rand Corporation compile a four-part series of reports on "Protecting First Responders."

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