Proposed bill would allow Utah to enlist letter carriers to assist responders during natural disasters

Posted at 7:26 PM, Dec 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-31 23:51:29-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A state lawmaker is proposing a bill that enlists your local postal worker to help out in the case of a natural disaster or an emergency.

“I think it's landmark for the state of Utah,” said Karen Mayne, a Democrat who represents District 5 and serves as the Minority Whip in the Utah Senate.

Mayne is running a bill that would draft U.S. Postal Service employees to help out in emergency situations and natural disasters, like an earthquake.

“They would be support for our first responders, because if there was an earthquake, or anything like that, they know the community,” Mayne said.

Mayne says postal workers know the neighborhoods. If there's a problem in one particular area, she said they could call them up by zip code to provide information on who lives where, if a house is vacant, or if someone needs medicine.

“They know the community,” Mayne said. “They know where Sally lives, they deliver medicine to Sally.”

The senator says she's been having conversations with Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz and the Letter Carrier's Union about how to get this program off the ground.

She's planning a bill for the 2016 legislative session. If it passes the legislature, it would be a first-of-its-kind initiative in the nation.

“That's the goal, that's what we're hoping, is that it's going to save time and lives,” said Chad Mortensen of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Mortensen said, at the very least, they can provide information to emergency responders in a situation like an earthquake.

He said: “We're already out on the street, we know the area: How can we not help?”