First responders bill heads to Idaho Senate floor

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BOISE, Idaho (House/Senate Democrats) — Editor's note: List was provided by Jeremy Gugino, communications deputy for the House/Senate Democrats.

A bill designed to bring relief to Idaho’s first responders is heading to the Senate floor following a vote Thursday afternoon. The legislation would expand Idaho’s Workers’ Compensation laws to cover mental injuries suffered by police, fire and EMTs.

The Senate Commerce and Human Resources committee voted unanimously to approve the bill being sponsored by Rep. Mat Erpelding of Boise. As the law stands now, Workers’ Compensation does NOT cover Idaho’s first responders for mental injuries – like PTSD or depression – unless they are accompanied by a physical injury. Erpelding’s legislation aims to address the very dangerous psychological injuries our first responders deal with on a daily basis. Nationwide last year, more police and firefighters committed suicide than were killed in the line of duty.

“This is the right thing to do especially when you heard the testimony from inside the committee from people who are suffering from broken hearts because they’ve had a son or daughter who’s committed suicide because of the post-traumatic stress caused by their job,” Erpelding said. “When you heard these stories, it was heart breaking; heart wrenching. This state should have done this a long time ago.”

Thursday’s hearing room was packed with first responders and family of first responders. That included the father of a veteran police officer who committed suicide last year.

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