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PTSD? New Bill Strengthens Police and Firefighters’ Benefits

In June 2019, Governor Sisolak signed into law AB492 which added post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of workers’ compensation benefits police officers and firefighters are entitled to claim. The law also covers police dispatchers, paramedics, and other first responders who experience job-related trauma. This new law provides much needed, and well deserved, coverage to individuals who risk their lives keeping area residents safe from harm.  

Scope of Coverage

The new law allows police officers, firefighters, and other first responders to pursue compensation for stress-related injuries. These include witnessing a crime, responding to a crime scene, assisting accident victims following a motor vehicle collision, etc. Regardless of whether it was one event or a cumulative injury, first responders in Nevada can now recover compensation to cover their cost of care.  

Individuals must provide clear evidence that the mental injury was caused by extreme stresses sustained on the job. Examples include responding to mass casualty situations, attending to survivors of domestic violence, or witnessing the injury or death of a colleague.   

It’s the Right Time to Provide Coverage

Approximately one in every five police officers suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. By comparison, that rate is only 3.5% among the general public. Roughly 10% of firefighters, paramedics, and dispatchers also suffer from PTSD. Nationwide, up to 400,000 first responders deal with PTSD symptoms of varying degrees at any given time.

Typically, first responders who start work at a younger age, are unmarried, or hold a supervisory position are at greatest risk of developing PTSD. However, the disorder can affect anyone, at any time. Providing compensation for mental health care helps remove the social stigma and financial barriers associated with these beneficial treatments.    

The Value of Mental Health Care

Prompt and proper mental health services can help alleviate the long-term consequences that often follow in the wake of traumatic events. The ability to receive compensation to cover psychiatric care, medication, and other therapies to alleviate PTSD symptoms is incalculable. It creates an option for first responders to use to handle and process stress-related injuries. In turn, this allows them to better perform their jobs, and it reduces turnover which helps improve the quality of service provided within the community. It also reduces the expenses associated with recruiting, hiring, and training replacement firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and dispatchers. 

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