Bill Would Help First Responders With PTSD Get Help

Posted at 8:24 PM, Feb 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-20 21:24:13-05

Medical calls, car accidents and building fires are just some of the calls fire fighters responded to across the state in Tennessee since the start of the new year. Added up with support for police officer, and according to Captain Tom Murdaugh of the Jackson Fire Department, it's a recipe for post traumatic stress disorder.

"It's every day," said Murdaugh as he stood outside of the state house health committee meeting Tuesday. "We love our job, we just want to be protected and taken care of while doing our job."

Up for discussion in 2018 is a bill that would entitle some first responders to mental health help if they're diagnosed with PTSD. It's sponsored by State Representative Sam Whitson of Franklin.

"It's a tough occupation and it builds up over years," he said. "Firemen maybe go on thousands of calls during their career, but they only can remember a few of those because of the trauma that's involved of them helping out victims of fires, disasters, accidents."

Whitson said he has seen that Metro police officers receive mental health support through Police Advocacy Support Services, a counseling and advocacy group for police and their families. He intends for House Bill 1510 to set up something similar for fire fighters and full time emergency medical workers.

"We just had a fire fighter killed in Lawrenceburg. It had a tremendous impact on that community. Not only the population, but the fellow firemen across the state," he said.

The bill also would have fire insurance cover 10 sessions with a mental health service provider.