Willis Passes Measure to Expand Benefits for EMTs and Paramedics

NORTHLAKE, Ill. – State Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Northlake, recently passed legislation out of the House to ensure any emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic employed by a unit of local government can qualify for certain healthcare benefits in the event of a catastrophic injury on the job.

“EMT’s and paramedics risk their lives and well-being to ensure members of our community are safe in the event of a fire, car accident or unexpected illness,” Willis said. “Unfortunately because of how the law is currently written, if an EMT or paramedic suffers an injury while on the job they do not qualify for the same healthcare benefits as a police office or firefighter.”

Willis’ House Bill 5221 changes the definition of a firefighter under the public safety employee benefits act to include emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Under this change, the employer of EMTs and paramedics who suffer a catastrophic injury or death are required to pay the entire healthcare premium for the life of the employee, spouse and their dependents up to 25 years of age. Under current law, a firefighter has to be a sworn member of a public fire department whereas this legislation would expand the term firefighter to include EMTs and paramedics employed by a unit of local government.

“EMTs and paramedics perform very similar duties to firefighters and in most cases incur the same potential life threatening risks,” Willis said. “This measure will expand needed healthcare benefits to individuals who risk their safety to serve the public.”

Willis’ House Bill 5221 passed out of the House with bipartisan support and now awaits consideration in the Senate.