First responders are people we all turn to in an emergency. They offer aid and assistance, helping us through some of the most difficult situations we will face in our lives. But who helps the first responders? Post-traumatic stress disorder is all too common among police officers, firefighters, and even EMTs.
If a bipartisan group in South Carolina has its way, workers compensation will soon be extended to these men and women who are diagnosed with PTSD. Says Senator Thurmond, R-Charleston, “If you believe PTSD is real, then we need to be properly taking care of us.”
Under the current system, compensation is only granted under cases of unusual or extreme events.
According to Thurmond and other supporters of bill S. 429, every event that first responders answer to is unusual or extraordinary. From seeing people burned in a fire to traumatic injuries on the scene of accidents. Many do not consider what it is that first responders deal with, mentally, because of the training that these people undergo. Training gives these men and women the knowledge they need to respond correctly, not to shut off their emotions.
The only requirement of the proposed law is that the first responder seeking workers comp must be directly involved in the traumatic incident.
Opponents of the bill, including Senator Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster, prefer that measures for better initial treatment be put in place rather than extending workers comp. Instead of offering general counseling, treatment options should be tailored to the condition of the individual.
If the bill passes, it will affect the State Accident Fund. Thus far, increases in expenditures to the fund could not be estimated. True costs would depend on how many first responders filed claims each year. Several counties have made estimates on their own, guessing that the passage of the bill would increase expenditures by 15 to 20 percent.
The bill is currently on the state Senate’s contested calendar.
If you have been hurt in a work-related injury, do not fight for compensation on your own. Our attorneys will work tirelessly for you, helping you get what you deserve. Call us today so we can review the facts of your case.