COLOMBUS, Ohio (WOWK) – They come to our rescue when called to help, but now first responders are calling on people for the same, seeking support on a bill going through the statehouse.
The bill would give first responders access to worker’s compensation if they have PTSD. It’s something they tried to pass this summer but failed.
Ohio State Representative Tom Patton says when it came to covering first responders PTSD with worker’s compensation this summer, lawmakers in the senate choose not to answer the call.
“We thought we had the support from the administration and the other chamber on it, so I was really disappointed,” Patton says.
First responders agree that Patton wasn’t the only one disappointed with the outcome. International Association of Fire Fighters Local 67 President Mark Siemer says, “Obviously, we were disappointed. I don’t think they realize that we are exposed to that to the extent that we really are.”
The trauma first responders face is real. Firefighter Don Estepp said following the deaths of children in 2016, he began to feel burnt out and started having nightmares. He had to go out of state to get PTSD treatment and use his own health insurance to cover the cost, and that’s how the Ohio Chamber of Commerce thinks it should be.
In June, Kevin Shrimp of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce said, “We’re looking at this from the 30 thousand foot perspective of this bill represents for the first time in over 100 years of worker’s compensation law that a purely mental claim will be compensable.”
Today the Ohio Chamber of Commerce says its opinion has not changed. However, Rep. Patton says he believes this cause should be an exception to the rule.
“Every rule is a rule, but every rule should have an exception and I think that this is a genuine, well thought out, well planned out, well arguemented, exception to the rule,” Rep. Patton says.
Rep. Patton says that if he can get this bill through the House, he wants to sit down with the senate leadership to try to clear up any misunderstandings they may have of this bill and try to get it passed there.