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Calif. governor signs first responder PTSD bill

first responders

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed several bills to improve protections for first responders in California by adding post-traumatic stress disorder suffered on the job as a compensable injury, and creating peer support programs for firefighters and other emergency services personnel.

S.B. 542 will provide first responders with workers compensation while they recover from their mental health injuries by establishing a rebuttable presumption of a compensable mental health injury for firefighters and law enforcement personnel in instances where they sustain occupational post-traumatic stress.

A.B. 1116, establishes statewide standards for first responder peer support programs to provide an agencywide network of peer representatives available to aid fellow employees on emotional or professional issues. The bill, introduced by Assembly member Tim Grayson, D-Concord, was developed in response to the high levels of suicide by firefighters in the state following the 2017 wildfires, he said in a news release.

Gov. Newsom also signed into law S.B. 438, which will prohibit a public agency from outsourcing its local emergency dispatch services to a private, for-profit entity, except when pursuant to a joint powers or cooperative agreement. It also clarifies that a public safety agency maintains the authority to determine the appropriate deployment of emergency resources within the agency’s jurisdiction.

S.B. 542 will apply to injuries on or after Jan. 1, 2020, but the provisions of including PTSD as a compensable injury becomes void on Jan. 1, 2025.

The text of A.B. 1116 stated that the provisions of the bill would take effect in July 2019; the new date for implementation is unknown.

S.B. 438, according to the bill text, retroactively applies to any contracts made after Jan. 1, 2019. 




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