2008-03-13 / About Town

Support given to first responder screenings

Deputy Minority Whip Bruce Long (R-Dist. 74 Jamestown, Middletown) and Senate Majority Leader Teresa Paiva-Weed (D-Dist. 13 Jamestown, Newport) have introduced legislation that will protect the health of firefighters in Rhode Island. These bills would establish a program to test all firefighters for bladder cancer.

In order to increase bladder cancer awareness and highlight the need for regular testing, Rep. Long and Sen. Paiva-Weed will be offering screenings to local firefighters. The screenings will take place on Thursday, March 20, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Jamestown Fire Station. Firefighters from the communities they represent, Jamestown, Middletown, and Newport, have been invited.

"We hope to see as many of these brave men and women as possible," said Rep. Long and Sen. Paiva Weed. "This is something that has been done in the past, and until we can get legislation passed that provides this testing for all firefighters, then we will do what we can to get as many tested as possible. With greater awareness and the proper testing, we can detect problems early and hopefully save lives."

There have been great advances in the screening process in recent years. There is now a urine test that measures the protein NMP22. High levels of this protein can be indicative of bladder cancer. Results can be available within 30 to 50 minutes of administering the test. In the past, bladder screening required a cystoscopy, which entailed the insertion of a tube into the urethra and cost hundreds of dollars.

The program that Rep. Long and Sen. Paiva-Weed support would be directed by the Department of Health. It would test all firefighters, collect data on the results, and provide educational resources on bladder cancer awareness to all Rhode Island firefighters about bladder cancer.

Representative Long and Senator Paiva-Weed have paid for the entire cost of these screenings and no public funds have been used.

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