All across the nation, including in California, it seems that the need for police officers and firefighters to address serious and disturbing events only keeps growing. Mass shootings were once a shocking experience but today are sadly all too common. In recent years, the wildfire season has become one of extreme destruction, and the loss of life. Police, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency responders are routinely put in situations that would logically leave anyone with symptoms of trauma.
Unfortunately, California’s first responders have struggled to gain access to the level of care they needed to address these experiences and heal from them before enduring even more such events. Some attribute this to a rise in the number of suicide deaths among this cohort. In 2017 alone, 140 police officers in the state died by suicide. That was more than the 129 officers who died from work-related events or conditions. In the same year, line-of-duty deaths among firefighters numbered 93. A total of 103 firefighters took their own lives.
As reported by The Sacramento Bee, the state legislature and the Governor have recently passed a bill that hopes to address this problem and provide the help these professionals need and deserve. Senate Bill 542 gives first responders the right to access workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder. This new law will allow these people to take time off work to get treatment for PTSD and successfully overcome the challenges their work raises in their lives.
Some groups did try to prevent the bill’s passage, citing concerns about costs.