Senator Keith Perry (R- Gainesville) garnered unanimous support in the Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee today for legislation which would allow confidentiality for first responders who seek personal and professional support from their peers.
A study by the Journal of Emergency Medical Services found that first responders are less likely to contemplate suicide when they feel supported and encouraged at work. By allowing these conversations to be confidential, SB 160 aims to foster a trusted support system within the law enforcement community.
“In 2017, more law enforcement officers and fire fighters died from suicide than in the line of duty,” said Senator Perry. “This statistic warrants immediate action and it is my hope this legislation will help promote peer support while reducing the stigma and fear of repercussions that all too often prevents first responders from seeking the help they need.”
There are certain exceptions to confidentiality, including: when the first responder agrees in writing to allow their peer to testify about information they provided; the person providing peer support is a defendant in a proceeding arising from a complaint filed by the first responder; or when there are facts or circumstances that would lead a reasonable, prudent person to fear for that first responder, another person, or society.
First responders include law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians or paramedics, public safety communications officers, dispatchers, and 911 or other phone system operators whose job duties include providing support or services to first responders.
For more information on Senator Keith Perry, visit FLSenate.gov.