Idaho Governor To Sign First Responder PTSD Bill Into Law

In the life of a first responder, no two days are the same.

But, a cumulative effect of dealing with traumatic incidents: murders, suicides, car crashes, it can take a toll.

"Our officers deal with trauma on a pretty regular basis," Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Lee White said, "and some of the more provocative ones are reported upon."

"But a lot of the other ones the officers deal with and at the end of the day they are expected to go home and put on a smiley face and come home and do it again the next day, but over time those things can really weigh on an individual."

Chief White sees what his officers, and many others, go through.

Having been in law enforcement for 26 years, it was the early part of his career where the idea PTSD and talking about what his colleagues couldn't un-see were often left untouched.

"It was chin-up, macho, come back to work, don't talk about these sorts of things."

"We're doing a much better job in 2019 then when we were in say 2006 or beyond in identifying PTSD issues or other stress-related injuries that an officer or firefighter may experience," White said.

Senate Bill 1028 now sits at Governor Brad Little's desk.

The bill that zoomed through both the House and Senate with bi-partisan support states the first responder must have "clear and convincing" evidence of physiological injury and that the treatment would be handled through worker's compensation.

The old law say first responders could only claim PTSD if there was a physical injury associated to get worker's comp.

"And as much as the PTSD injury might affect them, they may not want to leave the profession. The way that the law is currently written, it might be a hindrance for people to seek help," White said.

Help, that White says could be the difference between staying on the force or walking away.

"That's why I'm so hopeful about this bill because people will actually seek the help that they need before it's too late," White said.

A spokesperson for Governor Little confirmed to KHQ that Governor Little will sign Senate Bill 1028 into law.

A bill signing ceremony will take place next Tuesday, March 12th, 2019 at 10 A.M.

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