Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed a bipartisan bill that provides support for police and firefighters seeking help for PTSD at Engine 10 Station of Waterbury Fire Department. Specifically, SB 164, AN ACT INCLUDING CERTAIN MENTAL OR EMOTIONAL IMPAIRMENTS WITHIN THE DEFINITION OF “PERSONAL INJURY” UNDER THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION STATUTES, will expand workers compensation coverage in certain situations that result in mental or emotional impairment. It provides training and coping skills for recruits and gives workers compensation for the following six conditions:
- 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;
- Viewing a deceased minor; and
- Witnessing an incident that causes a person to lose a body part, to suffer a loss of function, or that results in permanent disfigurement.
In addition, the law requires the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee to study the cost and impact of adding emergency medical services personnel and certain Department of Correction employees to the list of covered employees.
“First responders dedicate their lives to the safety of our neighborhoods, and we owe it to them to be there when the actions they took to protect others causes injuries to themselves – regardless of whether those injuries are physical or mental,” Governor Lamont said. “Modern scientific research is showing the immense impact that mental health issues can have on a person, and our statutes should reflect that. I am proud to stand side-by-side with our state’s police and firefighting community as I sign this important bill into law.”
On hand to witness the signing of the bill was Trish Buchanan who tirelessly lobbied for the bill. Her husband was an East Hartford police officer who committed suicide after seeking help for years.
“Trish lost her husband. He had asked for help for a lot of years, finally couldn’t take it anymore and took his own life. I don’t want to see any other families go through what Trish’s family had to go through,” said Senator Cathy Osten.
Many first responders see difficult things and struggle with depression. They also worry about the stigma of mental health issues.