New law allows FL first responders to get workers' comp for PTSD

New law expands PTSD benefits for first responders

A new Florida law allows first responders suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

The law went into effect on Monday.

“They see things that they can never un-see,” said Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Employee Assistance Program counselor Tina Jaeckle.

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Jaeckle is a crisis and trauma consultant trainer for first responders.

The new Florida law identifies posttraumatic stress disorder as an occupational disease for firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

“It is recognizing, really for the first time based on statute, that mental health is just as important as physical injury on the job,” said Jaeckle.

The law is specific about what qualifies as a traumatic event.

The first responder must personally witness a homicide; witness, transport or treat a child who dies; or witness, transport or treat an adult who dies after a horrific injury.

Jaeckle said she thinks that definition is broad enough.

“I think they’ve done a really, really good job on this,” said Jaeckle.

First responders must make their PTSD claim within one year of the traumatic event.

The law also requires first responders’ employers to provide educational training on mental health awareness, prevention and treatment.