Throughout California, many first responders and firefighters work hard to help keep this state safe. Unfortunately, performing these duties can sometimes result in bouts of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. To help solve this growing problem, Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed Senate Bill 542. Here’s more information about this bill and why certain groups are working to oppose it.
The growing challenges first responders face
Both first responders and firefighters find themselves dealing with a wide range of challenging situations. Sadly, research from the Ruderman Family Foundation shows that the suicide rate among firefighters and first responders might soon outpace on-duty deaths.
For instance, many Californians remember the recent wave of devastating wildfires. Between these fires and a rise in mass shootings, both firefighters and first responders are finding themselves in situations that can tax their mental health. One of this bill’s authors, Senator Henry Stern, stated that people are “turning a blind eye” to the struggles of firefighters and other first responders. He hopes that Senate Bill 542 will focus on resolving PTSD among first responders.
Why certain groups oppose Newsom’s changes
While many people feel that this new bill will bring positive changes, certain groups oppose this new ruling. Those who oppose these changes feel that current workers’ compensation plans provide adequate care for California’s first responders. Another concern these groups have involves how much money an influx of new mental health claims will end up costing the state of California.
To summarize, Governor Newsom recently signed a bill stating that first responders can claim mental health issues as occupational injuries. If they qualify, this bill allows first responders to receive paid time off. However, the unknown costs of this ruling have some in opposition to this bill.