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Law sponsored by Michael Williams to help EMS across state lines

A bill sponsored by state Sen. Michael Williams and signed into law this week by Gov. Nathan Deal could help residents in Georgia and other states when they need it most.

On Monday, Deal signed Senate Bill 109 to establish the Recognition of Emergency Medical Services Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact, or REPLICA, in the state, which gives emergency medical service crews the ability to do duties in other states.

“It creates an interstate compact between the state of Georgia and currently nine other states that allows for EMS personnel to move between these states,” said Williams, whose District 27 contains the majority of Forsyth County.

Georgia’s approval of the agreement is significant, as it officially triggers the compact in other states.

“The compact doesn’t become effective until 10 states sign onto it and Georgia was the 10th state,” Williams said. “With Gov. Deal signing this bill Monday, it actually made the compact between all the states active and in place, so it was significant for Georgia to be the 10th one.”

Tennessee, Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho have already passed the bills and eight other states, Alabama being the closest, have filed bills.

The bill is meant to aid in emergency situations, such as natural disasters, and to transport patients by ambulance over state lines. A similar compact for nurses was also approved.

Williams said one supporter of the law had spoken to him about crews from Florida responding to an out of state emergency but only being able to help affected Florida residents.

“When you’re in the middle of a natural disaster and things are going crazy you don’t have time to ask if you’re from Florida or not,” Williams said. “My hope is Forsyth County never suffers from a natural disaster, but in the event we do we will be able to have other EMS volunteers come and help if we need to from other states.”