FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- They risk their lives to help others. Now, a bill that would help the families of EMS workers has taken an important first step towards passage.

It overwhelmingly passed the House Local Government committee on Wednesday; a bill that would extend death benefits to the families of EMS workers.

Last November, Jessamine County paramedic John Mackey was killed in the line of duty, hit by a car when he stepped out of his ambulance.

"Anybody who knows him knows that his entire life was about helping people. He would drop anything he was doing to go help somebody," Mackey’s widow Janine told WDRB News.

But there was no help for Mackey's family.

Under state law, the families of police and firefighters receive a death benefit of $80,000, plus a tuition waiver to a state college -- but that benefit does not extend to EMS workers.

"We're just asking that the paramedics and the EMTs get the same benefits as the rest of our first responders," she said.

That's why Janine Mackey came to Frankfort: to push for HB 54, a bill that would add paramedics, EMTs and rescue squads to the death benefit.

"I see this piece of legislation as being equitable. I don't see the reasons why they've not been included in the past," said Rep. James Tipton (R-Taylorsville.)

The bill passed easily. Now it's on to the full House.

"So to know that, after his passing, that his legacy could be to continue to help every family in EMS in the state of Kentucky is wonderful," said Mackey.

The committee also voted to name the bill in honor of John Mackey, and to make it retroactive to last year, in order to cover Mackey's family.

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