Ohio lawmaker hopes to pass bill providing PTSD coverage for emergency responders

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio (WJW) — State Rep. Tom Patton of Strongsville is hoping a bill he wrote that would allow coverage of post traumatic stress disorder for emergency responders, who did not suffer a physical injury, will get passed soon.

“These are the folks that when we are looking for help, we pick up the phone and they come running,” Patton told Fox 8. “So here is an opportunity for us. They need some help we should come running.”

Patton has been working on getting the proposal passed for years, but with the recent uptick in first responder suicides he and local police officials say it’s important to get the it passed as soon as possible.

“The reason why a lot of these men and women don’t seek out this help is because of the fact there is co-payments, and they have limited sick time available and may not be able to take off two months for those four or five office visits and therapy and counseling and things like that, “ Patton explained.

He added that in the past several months, two Cleveland police officers and two former officers from other departments died by suicide.

“You can kind of picture it as you have this back pack on and every traumatic incident you go to, you are throwing a rock in that back pack, and if you don’t have a way to unload those rocks, eventually the back pack will weigh you down and you are going to fall,” said Euclid Sgt. Dave Olszewski.

Euclid’s Police Chief Scott Meyer said having the coverage would help a lot of police and firefighters seek the help they need.

“When you are repeatedly subjected to traumatic events, it’s just very difficult for human beings to process,” Meyer said.

Patton says there has been some opposition to the bill.

“I think there has always been some opposition from business groups that if we give PTSD coverage to first responders, than other groups will want to come forward and say me too,” Patton said. “But, I don’t think that will happen. “

In February, the House approved mandating the coverage. The Senate has not voted on it yet, but Patton is hoping they will do so soon.

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