People in California who choose to work in fields that require them to attend to emergency situations know that there may be times when they experience very difficult events. However, it seems that in recent years, the level of trauma police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and other professionals are exposed to only keeps growing. From mass shootings to explosive wildfires and more, people in these professions can understandably need more support to enable them to heal and continue to do their jobs.
The Sacramento Bee recently reported that suicides among police officers and firefighters outnumbered deaths in the line of duty in 2017. It may well be that more of these people have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and possibly been unable to get the help they need and deserve. For a long time, workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD required a person to prove undeniably that their need for mental health treatment was at least 50% related to their job.
Now, a new bill signed into law in late September by the Governor allows first responders to seek mental health services as part of a workers’ compensation claim without this requirement. The Governor also signed another bill into law that establishes standards for the development of programs to provide peer support for these vital professionals.
As the wildfire season of 2019 has already shown a continued threat, these efforts should be welcome by many and it is hoped that more officers and firefighters take advantage of the help now available to them. Some people opposed the effort due to concerns about costs.