By CHAD ABSHIRE
State Rep. Leslie Combs’ (D-Pikeville) legislation to improve the state’s response to strokes, and to update the state’s Golden Alert system, is set to become law after getting final approval in the Kentucky House of Representatives on Thursday.
“Kentucky has seen its stroke rate improve significantly over the years, but it still remains one of the leading causes of death here in the Commonwealth,” Combs said. “My goal with House Bill 467 is to see what more the state can do to bring these numbers down even further.”
According to a press release from Combs’ office, her legislation will call on the state’s Department for Public Health to create, and then implement, a plan to improve stroke response and treatment statewide. The department will also establish a statewide database to better track the rate of strokes and report on its findings each year.
Stroke healthcare providers will also be called upon to better communicate with each other and share information.
In addition to all that, the press release stated that the legislation also modifies the Golden Alert program, which provides a quick emergency response when permanently impaired adults, such as those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, are reported missing.
The new law adds those with developmental disabilities, including autism and traumatic brain injury, to the list of qualified individuals, with these searches to be known as “Golden Alert D,” the press release stated. Those to be contacted by law enforcement, however, remain the same: the local emergency management director, the local search and rescue coordinator and local media outlets.
To help those conducting these searches be better prepared, the state Division of Emergency Management was called upon to expand its training to include information on how to search for those with developmental disabilities who are missing.
“I’m proud to sponsor this bill, because it has a tremendous potential to really reduce one of the biggest killers in the state and to help our emergency personnel be better prepared when it comes to search and rescue,” Combs said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing this law be put to use as quickly as possible.”