Clinton, Miss. — In a new position statement, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) declares support for extending the federal Public Safety Officer Benefit program to all police, fire and EMS personnel who lose their lives providing emergency medical services as a public service. Currently, the program covers only those EMS practitioners employed by a government entity.
Congress established the Public Safety Officer Benefit program to provide assistance to the survivors of police, fire and ambulance staff employed only by federal, state and local entities in the event of their deaths in the line of duty. The program provides a onetime financial benefit to the eligible survivors of governmental public safety officers whose deaths are the direct result of a traumatic injury sustained in the line of duty. In addition, disability benefits are provided to public safety officers who have been completely disabled in the line of duty by a catastrophic injury, if that injury prevents them from performing gainful work. The program does NOT cover non-governmental ambulance personnel.
NAEMT strongly supports extending this benefit to cover ALL EMS practitioners who die in the line of duty. In 2003 and 2008, bills were introduced in Congress to extend the benefits program to non-governmental — hospital-based, non-profit and independent — ambulance personnel such as emergency medical technicians, paramedics, nurses, doctors, drivers and pilots. However, these bills did not pass through committee. According to the National EMS Memorial Service, approximately 400 EMS practitioners have died in the line of duty since 1993. While the total number of deaths differs from year to year, the average is 25, with about half of those having been employed by non-governmental agencies.
As of October 1, 2008, the death benefit is $315,746. To expand this benefit based on an average of 12 line-of-duty deaths of non-governmental practitioners per year would cost approximately $3.79 million per year.
“NAEMT is an organization that represents all EMS practitioners, whether they work in the public or private sectors,” says Patrick Moore, NAEMT President. “Extending the Public Safety Officer Benefit program to all EMS practitioners helps enforce the value of the lifesaving skills and service of these dedicated men and women delivering EMS services nationwide.”
To view the full position statement, please visit the NAEMT Positions page on the NAEMT web site: http://www.naemt.org/advocacy/naemt_positions.aspx.
Formed in 1975 and today more than 27,000 members strong, NAEMT is the nation’s only organization solely dedicated to representing the professional interests of EMS practitioners, including paramedics, emergency medical technicians, first responders and other professionals working in pre-hospital emergency medicine. NAEMT members work in all sectors of EMS, including government service agencies, fire departments, hospital-based ambulance services, private companies, industrial and special operations settings, and in the military.