Last legislative session bills were introduced in an effort to provide assistance to first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress injury or PTSI. The League believes post-traumatic stress injury is a serious illness that should be addressed from a prevention perspective first and foremost. However, previous bill language would have created an uninsurable workers’ compensation benefit, leading to extremely high insurance premiums and a diversion of local tax dollars.
Post-Traumatic Stress Injury in First Responders
Senate Bill 775 (PN 913) and House Bill 1732 (PN 1962), introduced by Senator Camera Bartolotta and Representative Frank Ryan respectively, would amend the Workers’ Compensation Law providing first responders with a benefit for a post-traumatic stress injury if it is established by a preponderance of the evidence that the injury resulted from a normal or abnormal working condition and was sustained in the course and scope of the individual’s employment.
Injuries must be based on an examination and diagnosis by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, and claims must be filed within three years of the date of diagnosis. Injuries diagnosed after the last date of employment shall not prohibit a claim against the employer at the time of first responder’s direct exposure. Finally, post-traumatic stress injury caused by an employment action would not be compensable.
First responders would be defined as professional or volunteer firefighters, members of a volunteer ambulance corps, members of volunteer rescue squads, emergency medical services employees, paramedics, PA State Police officers and peace officers.