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New workers’ compensation law for Florida first responders

Florida’s first responders have a difficult job. They see Floridians at their worst. Sometimes they even risk their lives and get injured on the job. But what happens when first responders see and experience traumatizing events?

The effects of posttraumatic stress disorder are difficult enough to live with, even harder to try to work through. Still, that was the only option for Florida’s fire fighters, police and paramedics since PTSD did not make a first responder eligible for lost wages through workers’ compensation.

Often when a first responder arrives at the scene, they don’t know what they will find. Dispatch will give them the information about what happened, but little regarding the details of the scene.

Lost wages for first responders with PTSD

Recently, Governor Scott signed a bill that will change things for Florida’s first responders. When it goes into effect in October of this year, the bill will allow for first responders diagnosed with PTSD from an event that happened while working to collect lost wages though workers’ compensation.

Previously, medical care was covered, but not lost wages, so first responders either had to find a way to still work or resign from their jobs. Now, first responders will be eligible for both medical care and lost wages.

While the bill won’t apply to people who are already diagnosed, the benefit to those who will experience horrific situations while helping the people of Florida will be great. Allowing first responders with job-related PTSD to collect lost wages shows them their mental health is important.

Some tragedies are too much

Whether it’s police officers, fire fighters or paramedics there are simply some things that you can never prepare for. One Florida firefighter and paramedic, showed up to a scene to find his brother horribly injured. His brother died a few hours after the accident, leaving the responder with severe PTSD. After using all his sick and vacation time, along with time his coworkers donated to him, he had no choice but to return to work despite still dealing with significant trauma.

A step in the right direction

Florida’s first responders work hard to ensure the people of Florida are safe and cared for. This bill takes a step toward showing first responders that their sacrifice is recognized and appreciated.

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