Missouri law now classifies EMS first responders as public safety officers

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo A new bill just signed by Governor Mike Parson adds more first responders to the role of a public safety officer.

Senate Bill 870 expands the role of what is considered a public safety officer to include medical first responders.

Previously, only police officers and firefighters were considered public safety officers. Which meant their families would get benefits if they died in the line of duty, while paramedics families wouldn't.

It is an issue that hit very close to home with Governor Parson.

Several years ago I lost my brother-in-law who was an EMT down by Humansville Missouri, working a traffic accident." said Parson. "But he lost his life as an EMT and at the time I had lost an officer when I was sheriff in the line of duty. And realized the discrepancy in two individuals who both gave their lives for emergency personnel."

Now paramedics and EMT's are under the role of public safety officers.
So if they are killed in the line of duty, their families could qualify for 25 thousand dollars in benefits.
And their kids would be taken care of as well.

"If an individual loses their life in the line of duty, their children will be able to go to state colleges tuition free. There is a grant program out there that is available that is significant because we all end up in the same place dealing with the same tragedies." said Mark Alexander, the Cox Health EMS Director.

Because it is not just law enforcement officers and firefighters putting their lives on the line.

"We felt like it was important to extend that same benefit to the EMS folks as well." said Alexander.

"For all of us that have worn a badge, worn a uniform, whatever it is. Whether you are on a helicopter, whether you are out here running an ambulance and everything, most of the time we have all done things and do things everyday that most people don't want to do. They depend on me and you to do the right thing. You guys are out there wearing those uniforms and badges and you are public servants at the end of the day." said Parson.

Medical pilots and flight nurses are also included under public safety officers with the new law.

The line of duty death benefits includes deaths that are accidental or intentionally caused by someone else.