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Bill aims to expand workers' comp. for first responders, include protections for PTSD

Currently, first responders in Kentucky only qualify for benefits if they are physically injured on the job.

BR 140 is expected to be heard sometime this week. If you would like to encourage your lawmakers to support the bill, you can view a list of committee members here.

A bill filed in the Kentucky legislature for the 2019 session aims to expand current workers compensations protections for first responders, including those suffering from PTSD. Currently, first responders only qualify for benefits if they are physically injured on the job.

“If you and I are partners, and we walk into a house and you witness me get my head blown off, and you get PTSD, tough on you, because you don’t have a physical injury,” explained Officer Lamont Washington with the Louisville Metro Police Department. He participated in the WHAS11 series “Stressed into Silence,” highlighting the struggle many first responders face with post-traumatic stress.

BR 140 was pre-filed ahead of the legislative session, sponsored by Representative Joni Jenkins (D) of Shively and Representative McKenzie Cantrell (D) of Louisville. The bill, if passed, would alter current law to include “psychological injuries” as being recognized for certain state employees, including first responders. 

The two said they’ve been working on the issue for a while, but are glad that the public is paying closer attention to the topic now.

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“We really wanted to do something for [first responders] to let them know we care about them [and] their service to us,” said Representative Cantrell. “We want them to stay in the job and stay mentally healthy, because they see the worst of our society but they’re the best of us. And we want them to stay healthy—mentally, physically—and we want to support them in any way we can.”

SEE MORE: First responders & PTSD: Stressed into silence

Cantrell said the goal currently is to get the bill to a hearing in the state House. She is confident that it will receive bipartisan backing since it stands to offer help to first responders currently suffering.

►Contact reporter Rob Harris at rjharris@whas11.com. Follow him on Twitter (@robharristv) and Facebook.   

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