Florida First Responders With PTSD Receive Workers’ Comp

December 13, 2019
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A very important change to the coverage provided under the State of Florida’s Workers’ Compensation now allows for first responders — which includes firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and law enforcement officers (LEOs) — to receive benefits for a work-related diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The update was introduced to the Florida legislature under CS/CS/SB 376: Workers’ Compensation Benefits for First Responders and specifically addresses PTSD and classifies it as an “occupational disease” under the legislation. Further, the First Responders’ bill specifies that workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD don’t require a physical injury and aren’t subject to certain apportionment (which is dividing and sharing benefits according to a plan) and there are no limitations.

Under the First Responders Workers’ Comp Bill, a first responder (firefighter, police officer, paramedic) diagnosed with PTSD is eligible for compensation. This eligibility has to meet specific criteria, such as certain circumstances (the traumatic event), the disorder resulting from the course of duties, an examination, and an official diagnosis from a licensed psychiatrist.

Another benefit under the First Responders’ Workers’ Compensation bill is that employers of first responders (including volunteer first responders) are required to provide training and education related to mental health awareness and treatment, as well as prevention, mitigation, and what’s referred to as “Psychological First Aid”.

Preventative measures for PTSD in first responders include what have been described as “protective factors”: a higher perceived preparedness, a greater sense of purpose in life, the support of family, a positive approach with coping focused on the first responder’s emotions, and training and preparedness for the first responder’s job-related tasks.

Part of the training and preparedness involves resilience training and peer support, teaching self-care and crew care techniques, and having routine psychological debriefings for first responders who have witnessed a traumatic event. Under Statute 440.151, the State of Florida defines eligible traumatic events as:

  • Seeing a deceased minor;
  • Directly witnessing the death or the fatal injury of a minor;
  • Participating in the physical treatment of a minor who subsequently dies from their injuries;
  • Manually transporting a minor who later succumbs to their injuries;
  • Seeing a decedent who suffered grievous bodily harm;
  • Directly witnessing a death that results in grievous bodily harm to the decedent (this includes suicides);
  • Directly witnessing a homicide;
  • Directly witnessing an injury that leads to the death of the injured person;
  • Participating in the physical treatment of a person who later dies due to grievous bodily injury (including suicide); and
  • Manually transporting a grievously injured person who later dies as a result of their injuries.

Due to the serious nature of a first responder’s duties and responsibilities, Florida is addressing PTSD as a serious state interest. Providing training, support, and especially workers’ compensation benefits is a very powerful step towards helping our finest, bravest, boldest, and best citizens with the treatment they deserve.

Our Pharmacy Network can help make your treatment and recovery easier with our in-home or at-office delivery of prescription medications. To learn more about workers’ compensation and how you can use our network of pharmacies, please call us toll-free at 1-844-238-9313 or contact us using our convenient online form.

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