OK Gov. Restores Death Benefit For Emergency Responders


Oklahoma City, OK (CompNewsNetwork) - The families of emergency medical responders who die in the line of duty will remain eligible for a $5,000 death benefit from the state, thanks to a measure signed into law this week by Gov. Brad Henry. Rep. Paul Roan, D-Tishomingo, authored the bill in the House of Representatives, while Sen. Susan Paddack, D-Ada, authored it in the State Senate.

The death benefit for licensed EMTs was established two years ago. It would have ended on June 30, 2010, due to a sunset provision in the original legislation.

"This will make the benefit for EMTs permanent and provide the same for registered EMRs," said Rep. Roan. "I think it is only right to help with the funeral expenses for those who lose their life in service to the public, and that's what this law provides."

The benefit would be paid by the Oklahoma Department of Health from a revolving fund established using fees collected with EMT and EMR applications. The new law resets those fees at $10 for initial applications, $5 for EMR renewals and $2.50 for EMT renewals. The old law required EMTs to pay $10 for renewals.

The benefit would be exempted from the beneficiary's taxable income.

There are approximately 6,000 licensed EMTs and 1,400 registered EMRs, according to Oklahoma State Health Department estimates. Two $5,000 benefits were paid out during the program's first 18 months.

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