Representative Stan McClain (R) is proud to announce that his bill, HB 1007, Peer Support for First Responders, passed unanimously in today’s Civil Justice Subcommittee in the Florida House of Representatives. The bill had strong support in public testimony from first responder Sergeant George Wallace of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and organizations representing law enforcement: the Florida Police Chief’s Association and the Florida Police Benevolent Association, respectfully waived in support while showing unity.
“This was just the first stop and there are a couple more committee meetings to go yet but I’m just honored to be able to run legislation that will have a positive impact and help our first responders in dealing with the trauma they witness every day, putting their own lives on the line, while protecting us,” said McClain.
HB 1007 includes law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians or paramedics, public safety communications officers, dispatchers, and 911 or other phone system operators who provide support or services to first responders in the definition of first responders. The bill simply provides confidentiality for those peer support communications that are not otherwise protected by doctor-patient or psychotherapist-patient privilege.
“Here again, we see the national numbers of suicides for first responders and Florida certainly isn’t immune to that epidemic. Peer support can reduce the stigma, scheduling difficulties, lack of access, and other barriers that may prevent first responders from seeking mental health care. I believe we can certainly encourage those who are exposed to traumatic events that can lead to PTSD, depression, and suicide; to open up to their peers with those important conversations that need to happen in order to begin the healing process,” said McClain.