S.C. lawmakers aiming to focus on mental health of first responders

Local News

GREENVILLE CO., S.C. (WSPA) – Right now in South Carolina, first responders can only receive worker’s compensation for physical injuries, but there is a push to expand that to include mental trauma.

Almost every day, first responders suit up, knowing that day they could see something horrific.

“We put on our gear to protect us. You can only protect from the heat and the fire and physical harm, but the mental things, they enter into you… There is no protections against that,” Piedmont Park Fire Department Fire Captain Duane Brock said.

Brock said, he’s seen it all, “I had a really bad call where four children died.”

Adding, the emotion of the job can take a toll.

“Over time I felt like yeah, maybe I do have some sort of issue because I felt like I was waking up in the middle of the night, and not having a nightmare, but every night I was waking up at the same time, it was pretty much every night,” Brock said.

However, lawmakers in South Carolina are stepping in to help.

“Currently workers compensation law excludes firefighters, police, ems, that type of worker from receiving worker’s comp for a mental injury,” Professional Fire Fighters Association Public Affairs Benjamin Baker explained.

People like Brock, who put their life and mental stability on the line every day, are why a bill was introduced in the state house to change that.

“We would be able to apply for worker’s comp to provide for us if we’re out of work trying to recover from a mental injury,” Baker said.

The bill has passed through the House of Representatives and is now waiting to be passed by the Senate before the governor can sign it into law.

Brock said if it is passed, it’ll be a game changer.

“It’s a step forward, because there’s so many things we haven’t accessed yet, that we’re just starting,” Brock said.

To learn more about the bill, click here.

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