As the month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it is hard to not applaud the Connecticut State Legislature’s bipartisan proposal unveiled this past Monday, the 13th of May 2019, to offer Firefighters and Police Officers up to one year workers compensation coverage for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a very real, and an all to often ignored or overlooked fact of life for too many first responders. As law makers have worked on the issue of PTSD impacting first responders in Connecticut for nearly six years, it is now known they plan to enact this new mental health care benefit for first responders before the 2019 Legislative Session closes on the 5th of June.
While this bipartisan support can be a national standard, authorizing benefits for Firefighters and Police Officers, who have been diagnosed with PTSD following one of the six qualifying events:
• Viewing a deceased minor
• Witnessing the death of a person
• Witnessing an injury that causes the death of a person shortly thereafter
• Treating an injured person who dies shortly thereafter
• Carrying an injured person who dies shortly thereafter
• Witnessing an incident that causes a person to lose a body part, to suffer loss of body function or that results in permanent disfigurement
… Connecticut’s Legislatures have left out the first responders who are most likely to be impacted by these traumatic events, those working in Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Yes, it is important that Firefighters and Police Officers, be covered, and have their PTSD evaluation period expanded from 30 days to 180 days, but those most likely to have their hands on these situations, be most involved in these incidents are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics, who are not included in this this legislation.
This PTSD Treatment Plan is vital to all first responders, Volunteer or Career, it cannot be enacted soon enough, but it must include those serving in EMS.
When there is a deceased body, the pronouncement of death is most often called by an EMT or Paramedic on scene.
When a death is witnessed, an EMT or Paramedic most commonly witnesses it, often with their hands on the victim trying to save them.
When a person has an injury so severe it causes death shortly there after, the last person to touch them in the field is usually an EMT or Paramedic.
When a victim is treated and dies shortly there after, more often than not the person treating that victim is an EMT or Paramedic.
When a victim is carried out of whatever situation they are in, and then dies, they are usually being carried to an awaiting ambulance, and those working on that victim are EMTs and Paramedics.
When a victim has lost a body part, or is severely disfigured, those working on that patient, to get them from the scene to the hospital are EMTs or Paramedics.
No one is begrudging Firefighters and Police Officers their PTSD treatment and coverage, but it is a travesty that Legislatures have entirely ignored the people who have the most hands on contact during these six qualifying events, the men and women, paid or volunteer, who serve their communities in the Emergency Medical Services.
Those in EMS cannot be forgotten.
Contact your Elected Officials in Hartford and demand that EMTs or Paramedics be included in the State’s PTSD Treatment Legislation. Unsure who your elected representatives are or how to contact them? Click HERE
Help protect those who protect you.