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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 8, 2019 11:53 AM
From: Representative Michael H. Schlossberg and Rep. Frank A. Farry
To: All House members
Subject: Emergency Responder Mental Wellness and Stress Management Program
Rushing to the scene without second thought, emergency responders often witness horrors that most of us cannot even begin to imagine. Recent studies have shown that they experience higher rates of depression, alcohol abuse, sleep disturbances, anxiety disorders and suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, those who are first to respond are often the last to seek help. In the near future, we will introduce bi-partisan legislation that creates a Mental Wellness and Stress Management program for Pennsylvania’s first responders.

Our legislation establishes a mental wellness and stress management protocol within the PA Department of Health (DOH) to protect emergency responders living with post-traumatic stress and/or brain injuries and creates a toolbox for emergency responders to utilize when dealing with post-traumatic stress injuries. These tools will include:
  • Peer to peer support programs,
  • Toll-free helpline,
  • Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Programs, and
  • Trauma awareness training.
Lastly, our legislation increases fines to the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund (EMSOF) to improve the quality and delivery of Pennsylvania’s EMS delivery and requires that $250,000 of that revenue to be dedicated to fund the Emergency Responder Mental Wellness and Stress Management Program. Specifically, the bill increases the fine for traffic violations from $10 to $20 and Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) fines from $25 to $50. It should also be noted that these fines have not been increased in over 20 years while the cost of providing EMS services has continued to rise.

It is critical for first responders to understand that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. The creation of this program will provide Pennsylvania’s emergency responders with the opportunity to lessen the psychological impact of their jobs. That is why we, as legislators, must do all we can to support our first responders, especially those who may be suffering in silence.

Please join us in cosponsoring this very important legislation.

Introduced as HB1459