GoFundMe campaign passes $22,000 as workman’s comp claim is denied
By Eric Valentine
The longtime, beloved Blaine County animal control officer who suffered life-threatening injuries when he fell down a flight of steps while on duty is showing signs of improvement. How he’s going to pay for the costs of his care and recovery, however, is not.
Paul Ramm is a 15-year veteran of the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office where he served as the sole animal control officer, among many other duties he willingly performed for the organization over the years. On Aug. 17, while on duty, he stopped to use the restroom at a friend’s home. Upon leaving, he fell down a flight of stairs, suffering multiple brain bleeds, skull fractures on the left side, and a nicked carotid artery before he was placed on life-support ventilation. According to his daughter, Janell Porter, workman’s compensation insurance says Ramm’s accident does not qualify for coverage since he was not performing a specific work duty.
For Porter, the matter is clear—her dad was on duty and radioed into dispatch with his location and that he was taking a quick break.
“He never signed out of service. Workers are allowed to take 10-minute breaks every few hours,” Porter said. “He was on duty.”
Porter said the family wants to appeal the decision and they are currently working with the sheriff’s office and an independent resource that advocates for first responders in matters like this.
Meanwhile, Porter and the rest of Ramm’s immediate family are preparing now for both health and financial worst-case scenarios. The GoFundMe campaign they set up last month to raise $50,000 had just passed the $22,000 mark as of press deadline Tuesday.
Ramm’s condition is grim, but improving “beyond expectations” of his doctors, said Porter, who is no stranger to the rigors of neurological recovery. For years, she had worked as a registered medical assistant and front desk lead for a neurology specialist in the Valley and currently she works for St. Luke’s as a patient access specialist. In other words, she’s hopeful for her dad, but she’s managing her expectations.
Regarding her father’s brain injury prognosis, Porter noted the following:
● Most patients show 80% of their overall improvement in the first 30 days
● Most patients show the remaining 20% of their overall improvement over the next year
● Ramm’s respiratory distress has improved dramatically and his medical care team removed the ventilation machine and capped his tracheostomy (breathing tube)
● Ramm is showing slow motor-skill improvements every day
● Ramm is opening his eyes more often but still isn’t completely tracking movement
● It is not uncommon for patients with Ramm’s injuries to also suffer rapid declines in improvement
As reported in the Sept. 8 issue of Wood River Weekly, Ramm’s family had been thrown into chaos after learning of his fall. Porter was staying in Boise with her mother in a motorhome parked in Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center’s RV lot. Porter and her brother, Justin Ramm, would then travel back and forth between the Wood River and Treasure valleys so that one of the kids was with their parents at all times.
Since then, Porter said, St. Luke’s has provided work-from-home accommodations for her, and her mother has signed over power of attorney to make various authorizations easier.
As for Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, Ramm’s duties, according to Porter, are being spread out amongst the Sheriff’s Office, Hailey Police, and other coordinating agencies, or just not done at all.
“My dad was an animal control officer but he was a jack of all trades, too,” Porter said. “He was even managing all of the vehicle maintenance there. He has always been that kind of generous, helpful person.”