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During episodes of violence like a mass shooting, we talk about the experience of the victims. We designate the victims as the people who were there at the scene at the time of the violent episode itself. Rarely do we talk, on a mainstream media level, about the second group of people to arrive on scene, the first to respond to the scene- the first responders.

Our eyes were opened to the severe trauma faced by first responders after the 9/11 attacks in New York City. Firefighters, police, EMT’s, and many other first responders experienced immediate and severe trauma after witnessing the deeply disturbing tragedy of that day. Shows like Rescue Me, featuring Dennis Leary, dove into the reality of PTSD in which first responders live with the reality of surviving a traumatizing event. Trauma for first responders isn’t exclusive to those on scene. Trauma ER workers, surgeons, nurses, hospital staff, and many others who work in response to trauma will experience trauma among themselves. These individuals are faced with trauma on a regular basis. When the trauma is extreme, like in a mass casualty case, the PTSD which follows can become debilitating if not treated.

First responders live by giving to and caring for others. Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, which gives back to first responders. Workers compensation does not include coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder, until now. S.B. 376 has passed through the Senate and the House of Representatives, unanimously. On October 1, 2018, the law will go into effect.

The bill outlines eleven conditions to be met by first responders who have been diagnosed with PTSD. In order to get coverage, first responders need only meet one of these conditions, in addition to their diagnosis. Some of the conditions are graphic in nature so they will not be described in detail here, but generally include bearing witness to exceptionally graphic or disturbing situations. Under the bill and the changes to workers compensation, first responders with PTSD will be able to take medical as well as paid leave.

Why S.B. 376 matters

Mental health has not been recognized with the severity and urgency of medical health for far too long. First responders have been forced to struggle with their PTSD while continuing to perform their duties, often being triggered and retraumatized. The ability to take medical or paid leave in order to heal from trauma is a monumental development in recognizing the seriousness of PTSD, mental health, and the need to recover.

We’re proud to call Florida our home state. At The Guest House Ocala, everyone with an experience of trauma is welcomed to our estate to heal in mind, body, and spirit. Our treatment programs are customized on a concierge level of care. Each client’s treatment program is tailor fit to their specific needs and experiences. For information on life at the estate or our approach to trauma care, call us today: 1-855-483-7800