PTSD bill for responders to be signed by Fla. governor
The House unanimously voted to approve SB 376, which qualifies first responders who cannot work due to PTSD for workers’ comp
By FireRescue1 Staff
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida bill that gives first responders access to workers’ compensation if they have PTSD is on its way to be signed by the governor.
Palm Beach Post reported that SB 376 was unanimously approved by the House shortly after passing through the Senate, and Governor Rick Scott is expected to sign the bill.
Florida Police Benevolent Association executive director Matt Puckett said the bill could possibly save lives.
The current law prevents those with PTSD from filing for workers’ compensation benefits. Although the law was changed in 2007 to allow first responders to receive medical benefits for PTSD, they still are not allowed to receive lost wages.
The bill would give first responders the chance to receive lost wages if they meet certain criteria, including witnessing the death of a minor, or a death that involved “grievous bodily harm of a nature that shocks the conscience.”
The first responder must be able to clearly show that the PTSD was caused by a workplace incident.
The Florida League of Cities opposed the bill, saying the legislation was too broad and could increase city costs. The city of Boynton Beach agreed, until veteran firefighter and Commissioner Joe Casello stood up for the bill.
“I’ve lived it. I’ve been there. I’ve done it,” Casello said. “To this day I can’t listen to bag pipes without bursting into tears because of all funerals I went to.”
The League of Cities dropped their opposition and said their concerns were eased by an amendment.
The bill would also require cities to give first responders access to mental health awareness, prevention and treatment training, and Puckett said he hopes the training will make PTSD easier to identify amongst colleagues and family members.
“Are we identifying folks with this? Are family members, co-workers able to identify that this person is exhibiting these PTSD signs, and are we setting it up to where people are actually willing to admit it?” Puckett asked. “Maybe with this legislation people will start seeking treatment sooner.”