Rep. Zawistowski Co-Sponsors Legislation to Expand Mental Health Coverage for First Responders

Posted on June 3, 2019 by admin


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HARTFORD – State Representative Tami Zawistowski (R-61) co-sponsored legislation to help police and fire personnel to access mental health services. The bill, SB 164 ‘An Act Including Certain Mental or Emotional Impairments within the Definition of “Personal Injury” Under the Workers’ Compensation Statutes’ was taken up by the House of Representatives on Friday, May 31st.

Rep. Zawistowski commented, “This legislation is long overdue. Police officers and firefighters put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep us safe. In the course of their service they often witness traumatic events that can have a lasting impact. This legislation makes it easier for them to get the care they need.”

This legislation does not include EMS personnel, but rather requires the Labor Committee to conduct a study on the feasibility of expanding coverage.

“EMS and other emergency personnel – like our police officers and firefighters – are frequently exposed to traumatic incidents,” said Rep. Zawistowski. “I hope we will take up legislation next year after the feasibility study and extend these protections to other first responders, and will urge the Labor Committee to do so.”

The current legislation allows police officers, firefighters and parole officers to receive worker’s compensation benefits including mental health treatment for work related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Additionally, it requires resilience and self-care training for police officers, firefighters and parole officers.

Connecticut State Police Union President John Castiline testified in February, “As first responders we not only live with the daily stress of potentially losing our own lives, but we are required to witness the death, injury, violence and trauma to member of the public. As a result first responders have an increased risk of PTSD because of the repeated exposure to these incidents.”

The legislation was passed unanimously by the State Senate and House of Representatives, it awaits approval by the Governor.