Most of us are accustomed to hearing about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in connection with soldiers and sailors who have served in battle. We associate it with images of Viet Nam, and the various wars that have occurred – and are occurring – in the Persian Gulf region, and in places like Afghanistan.
The reality is that PTSD can happen to anyone who has been through a traumatic situation. One group of likely sufferers is comprised of emergency first responders – the men and women of local police, fire and paramedic departments who are first on the scene when a disaster takes place.
While there have been many issues following in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, one positive outcome is that Connecticut state senator Cathy Osten (D), the co-chairperson of the state’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, has announced that her panel will be sponsoring a new bill within the next few weeks.
According to Senator Osten, the bill to be introduced will allow emergency first responders to file claims for post-traumatic stress disorder as part of their existing workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
The bill has already garnered public favor. Newtown’s Board of Police Commissioners is just one organization asking the state legislature to broaden existing workers’ compensation coverage to provide benefits to police officers, fire fighters, and other who show signs of PTSD because of their “heroic efforts,” while on the job.
Members of the board have shared that some of the officers who responded to the Sandy Hook shooting are now too traumatized to do their jobs, and have been using all of their available sick time, and relying on donations in order to cover their salaries.
There is no official word on when the bill will be announced, but once the committee sends it to the senate floor, the Connecticut House of Representatives will still have to approve it before it can be voted into law.
In most states, workers’ compensation insurance coverage is limited to physical injuries that occur while employees are at work.