This week’s “Thankful Thursday” would like to recognize and commend California Governor Gavin Newsom for signing three new laws designed to increase access to mental health services for first responders. The new laws will create peer support programs, add post-traumatic stress suffered on the job as an “injury” for worker’s compensation purposes and ensure emergency services remain under public management.
“The job of firefighters and first responders can be very rewarding, but at the same time, extremely unpredictable. They can experience high-stress situations and traumatic incidents that can push them to the limit both physically and mentally, and we need to recognize and take those challenges head on. These bills are meant to ensure they have access to resources and help in their time of need, in the same way they assist their communities when they need them most, ” said Governor Newsom.
The three laws are:
- AB1116 or the California Firefighter Peer Support and Crisis Referral Services Act sponsored by Assembly Member Tim Grayson (D-Concord). AB1116 will establish standards for peer support programs and create a network of representatives to help first responders through times of crisis or stress.
- SB542 or the Trauma Treatment Act sponsored by Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) will treat trauma like other injuries that occur on the job and provide workers’ compensation while first responders receive treatment. SB 542 will improve mental health awareness among firefighters and law enforcement officers by establishing a rebuttable presumption of injury for firefighters and law enforcement personnel in instances where they sustain occupational post-traumatic stress.
- SB 438 sponsored by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) will prohibit a public agency from outsourcing its local emergency dispatch services to a private, for-profit entity.
“Every day, we ask firefighters and law enforcement officers to run into flames and gunfire – but too often, when the weight of these traumas becomes too much for these heroes to bear, we turn a blind eye to their struggles. Our nation has lost more public safety officers to suicide than in the line of duty— when just one life cut short is itself too many. Today, California is making clear that post-traumatic stress is not a disorder to be stigmatized. These injuries can be healed,” said Senator Stern.
This year, Governor Newsom has taken additional actions to assist firefighters across the state, go to https://www.gov.ca.gov/
2019/10/01/governor-newsom- for more details. signs-bills-to-support- firefighters-and-first- responders/