This month marks the 19th anniversary since tragedy struck our nation on Sept. 11, 2001. During our country’s darkest time, numerous heroes stepped forward to save others at Ground Zero in New York City, at the Pentagon and in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. As we take time to reflect on those who lost their lives that fateful day, we can also use Patriot Day to thank and honor our local public safety officers who serve our communities.

When our country needed help, more than 250 Indiana doctors, police officers, firefighters and volunteers answered the call and went to Ground Zero. Of the nearly 3,000 who died that day, 412 were emergency workers. To our first responders who continuously put themselves in dangerous situations, thank you for all you do keep us safe.

“This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. None of us will ever forget this day.”

– George W. Bush, Sept. 11, 2001

At the state level, we are dedicated to supporting our first responders and their families. In fact, several new laws took effect this year to help. 

To ease some of the economic strain families face when they lose a loved one serving their communities, a new law increases death benefits for Hoosier public safety officers from $150,000 to $225,000.

The use of dangerous firefighting foam containing “forever” chemicals is now restricted under a new law because they break down so slowly and can accumulate in the environment, potentially causing adverse health conditions in firefighters and citizens, and environmental contamination. These foams can only be used for training and testing purposes if containment measures are in place.

Many Hoosier heroes work behind-the-scenes to aid Hoosiers in unsafe or life-threatening situations. This includes 911 dispatchers who keep callers calm and connect them to help. Under a new law, these emergency workers are now designated as first responders, which helps them access key employee benefits.

This Patriot Day, please take time to reflect on those who lost their lives 19 years ago and use it as an opportunity to show gratitude to our first responders serving today. Our communities are home to everyday heroes watching over our families, responding to life-threatening situations and protecting us.