ORLANDO, Fla. — A move to provide better worker's compensation coverage for first responders living with post-traumatic stress disorder might find some traction in Tallahassee next year.
Channel 9's Field Sutton reported last month that first responders with physical injuries receive better benefits than their colleagues with PTSD.
The fight for a change in the law started with a team of hazmat trained Orlando police officers tasked with moving the victims in the hours after the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub.
One of the officers suffers with PTSD
, and has no assurance of collecting a paycheck while he seeks treatment.
First responders work violent and disturbing scenes that can affect them emotionally and mentally.
A firefighter from Cocoa Beach responded to a scene where a Dish network satellite van hit and killed a pedestrian, who turned out to be his brother.
"As you can only imagine, it was a devastating circumstance being called to a scene like that not knowing what you're going to be witnessing and finding your own brother dead at the accident site," attorney Geoff Bichler said.
The grief is complicated by a battle with worker's compensation.
"It doesn't cover any lost wages," Bichler said.
His lawyer calls it unacceptable.
"So when his claim was denied, he was really shocked by that," Bichler said.
Bichler state Rep. Mike Miller wants to push a bill in Tallahassee.
"To think that still, in 2016, we haven't done anything about it? I think that needs to change," said Beth Tuura, Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives.
Miller has not commented on the issue. Tuura is running against him in November.
"Absolutely, I support having PTSD covered in worker's comp," she said.
Rep. John Cortes, of Kissimmee, is pledging his support.
"If Representative Miller is going to take the lead, I'll be glad to be a co-sponsor with him," Cortes said.
Cortes said he was shocked to learn that in the wake of the attack at Pulse, there are still first responders suffering with PTSD that could be left to fend for themselves.
The lawyers who took on the case said it will take more to get the law changed. They're asking people to call their local lawmakers with opinions.
© 2021 Cox Media Group