President Obama signed the "Danny Mac" Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Act into law last week.
The law, named after Bensalem emergency medical staffer Dan McIntosh, was included as part of the government's annual National Defense Authorization Act.
The 39-year-old Bensalem Rescue Squad EMS worker suffered a massive heart attack and passed away while chasing a suicidal man who needed assistance on Kiansas Avenue in March 2010. Macintosh left behind two young children and a wife.
McIntosh's family was denied federal public safety officer death benefits because Bensalem Rescue Squad—like all Bucks County rescue squads—is not run by a government agency, but rather is a non-profit organization.
The new law will allow families of volunteer and non-municipal run emergency medical service unit workers to receive federal death benefits if they are killed in the line of duty.
“This law gives us the opportunity to right a wrong,” said Chris Reif, who is president of the Bucks County EMS Chiefs’ Association and Levittown-Fairless Hills Rescue Squad Chief.
Central Bucks Ambulance and Rescue Unit Chief Chuck Pressler said the passage of the law was a “great thing” for EMS. He added that the passage of the law will greatly benefit all Bucks County medical responders because “essentially no one was eligible previously.”
“This important measure will provide emergency services personnel and their families with peace of mind and equal protection under the law,” Bucks County Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick said after the president approved the law.
Over the past several years, McIntosh’s widow, Bethann, and members of the local first responder community have made numerous trips to Washington D.C. to speak with members of congress about the bill.
“I hope [the bill] will prevent families like mine from suffering a second devastation after the loss of a loved one in the line of duty,” Bethann Mcintosh said in a statement earlier this year, as she worked to garner support for the legislation.
While Fitzpatrick backed the law in the House of Representatives, Vermont Congressman Patrick Leahy pushed the legislation forward in the Senate. Leahy supported the law in honor of EMT Dale Long who died in a 2009 ambulance crash in Bennington, Vt.
“As a chief, I always think about the men and woman on the road,” Reif said. “It now gives me some comfort that if the ultimate sacrifice is made their family can get help adjusting to life without them.”