Pending Connecticut legislation supports adding PTSD under worker’s compensation.
(Hartford, Conn.) – Legislative leaders in Connecticut unveiled a bipartisan proposal Monday to provide police and firefighters suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with up to one year of workers’ compensation coverage. Medical Transportation leader in air, ground and private fire services, Global Medical Response (GMR) and its ground ambulance operation, American Medical Response (AMR), strongly support efforts to help all first responders dealing with the stress on the job and those who witness or experience a significant event while serving our nation’s communities.
“We recognize the importance of caring for our first responders’ well-being and support the efforts to help,” said Edward Van Horne, GMR Chief Operating Officer. “While the current legislation in Connecticut does not include EMS first responders, this legislation is an important first step to getting first responders the help that they need when they experience significant incidents on the job.”
Van Horne added that this legislation complements the first responder well-being programs GMR has already implemented, and he added that the company is adding additional resources significantly in 2019 and 2020. GMR’s cross-functional team that includes crew members, counselors and support staff from across the air and ground companies meets regularly to discuss current trends, find solutions and build out the program.
He said the program was implemented during the fourth quarter of 2018 and they are continually assessing and adding to it. “We recognize that there is no single solution that works for each team member. Every person responds differently and has different ways of coping with the significant stresses on the job. We want to offer multiple avenues for helping people, finding ways that they might reach out if they are suffering.”
“We support any effort that helps protect the well-being of Connecticut first-responders and first responders across the country,” said Chuck Babson, VP Operations. “It’s critical that we provide our teams with the resources they need to stay well.”
Currently, the company has trained CISD (Critical Incident Stress Debriefing) teams who are immediately dispatched when there are significant events, such as mass shootings or a crew member’s line of duty death or suicide. Additionally, AMR’s extensive therapy dog program includes two certified dogs and 11 in-training pups who are brought in during these situations as well; therapy dogs are also sent on site during such crises as hurricanes, floods and man-made disasters. The company also supports local operations who implement peer support programs as well as external non-profit counseling organizations such as Code Green, which provides awareness and education about mental health, PTSD and suicide in first responders. The company is in the process of implementing a non-denomiational Chaplaincy program, recognizing that team members sometimes struggle weeks or months after a major incident and they might need somebody to confide in, somebody who is on site at the operations and has earned their trust.
GMR is also looking at a first responder-focused employee assistance program (EAP) offering because they recognized that the traditional EAP is not typically equipped to handle the types of incidents first responders experience or witness on the job.
“There is no national support program available yet for first responders, so we’re bringing in our own crews and partnering with experts to help us build it. We are also evaluating local programs that we can potentially build upon and implement nationally for our crews and other first responders. Supporting the well-being of the women and men who head into difficult and dangerous situations is absolutely the most important thing we can do,” Van Horne said.
Advocates for the legislation say this could serve as a national model. Thirty-four states currently provide worker’s compensation benefits for PTSD.
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