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First Responders one step closer to PTSD Help

January 16th, 2018 by Jake Stofan
Studies show 15% of Firefighters contemplate suicide sometime in their career, often due due to PTSD resulting from the things they see, but in Florida firefighters and other first responders can’t be compensated for the work related mental injury unless the suffered a physical injury along with it.
New Legislation given unanimous approval by a Senate committee Tuesday would change that.
Prior to a vote in a senate committee, lawmakers joined the families of three first responders who developed PTSD. 
“At home, where he could be his true self, the demons would come out,” said Leslie Dangerfield, who lost her husband David to suicide.”
All three of the first responders were ineligible for workers compensation because they didn’t also have a physical injury. Unable to access care, two ended their lives. 
“David took his own life because he could no longer live with the nightmares he experienced during his career,” said Dangerfield.
The other,  a first responder at the Pulse Nightclub Shooting, lost his job.
His wife Jessica Realin spoke at the press conference.
“The time is now,” said Jessica Realin. “How many more families must be destroyed?”
Their stories aren’t unique. In America, more first responders are lost to suicide than in the line of duty. 
“We know that this is happening and we’re doing nothing about it,” said House Sponsor Representative Matt Willhite, who is also a firefighter.
It’s why Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis wants local governments to cover mental health injuries as they would a physical injury.
“It’s our time to step up and make a difference,” said Patronis.
Although cities say they support first responders, they worry the broad language in the bill would result in too high a cost on local governments.
Similar Legislation in Ohio was estimated to cost $189 million a year.
“We suspect costs could be even higher for Florida,” said David Cruz, a lobbyist for the League of Cities.
Supporters say they’ll work on a compromise, but Senate Sponsor Lauren Book is determined to pass the Legislation despite concerns.
“I don’t care what the price is,” said Book.  “These folks are fighting for us each and every day.”
Bill sponsors estimate the coverage will cost the state between $1.3 and $5 million a year, but no one really knows.

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