Lawmakers last week introduced a bipartisan measure meant to help Ohio police, fire and EMS personnel suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the dangerous work they undertake on a near-daily basis.
Senate Bill 118 would enable first responders diagnosed with PTSD arising from employment without an accompanying physical injury to be eligible for compensation and benefits under Ohio Workers’ Compensation Law.
Additionally, the bill would prohibit any such individual from receiving a disability benefit from a state retirement system for the condition while receiving compensation and benefits under workers’ comp.
“Every day, we rely on our first responders to protect and save the lives of Ohioans,” Sen. Edna Brown, D-Toledo said in a prepared statement. “During the course of their careers, these brave men and women can be exposed to horrific situations, resulting in PTSD.
“They willingly put aside their own safety to secure ours; we owe them the ability to receive the proper treatment and care that they need.”
Jointly sponsoring the measure with Republican Sen. Frank LaRose of Hudson, Brown championed a similar bill during the 131st General Assembly of the Ohio Legislature — Senate Bill 5.
The previous bill was reported out of two Senate committees — Transportation, Commerce and Labor and Finance — but never received a full vote in the Senate.
Brown defined PTSD as a disorder typically arising after an individual experiences a traumatic or life-threatening event.
It can happen to anyone, she noted. However, the percentage of people diagnosed with the disorder tends to be especially high among veterans and first-responders due to the nature of their work.
The disorder can interfere with an individual’s ability to live normally, and has the potential to lead to substance abuse, alcohol addiction, depression, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Untreated, the condition often worsens.
“This legislation will provide avenues of relief for peace officers and firefighters who have valiantly served the public and suffer from PTSD originating from the performance of their duties,” LaRose said. “This common-sense change gives our brave men and women time to recover and help them begin the journey back to work.”
Brown said it’s now the state’s turn to take care of these heroes.
“This is a bipartisan issue, and I’m grateful that Sen. LaRose has taken interest in pursuing passage of SB 118 with me. I urge my colleagues to recognize all of the good this bill does for an invaluable group of people.”
The legislation, which boasts support from six Senate cosponsors, had not been referred to committee for hearing as of publication.