First responders, state lawmakers fighting for PTSD law

Banking and Insurance committee hearing Tuesday

ORLANDO, Fla. – State Senator Lauren Book, of Plantation, is amending PTSD legislation so a form of the proposed law doesn’t experience the fate of the 2016 session and “die in committee.”

“She has a dear friend and neighbor who came to her sharing the concerns and profound challenges for 1st responders and PTSD,” spokesperson Laura McLeod wrote in an email Monday.

McLeod told News 6 that Senator Book felt “it was critical for workers compensation to deal with PTSD for first responders.”

Book’s SB 376 is one of two versions making its way to a committee hearing Tuesday. Legislation attorney Geoff Bichler said he will be reviewing it carefully.

“The trick is getting the law right,” Bichler told WKMG-TV prior to Monday’s trip to Tallahassee ,. “It’s not about money, it’s about trying to get this right from a public policy perspective so that they are protecting our first responders.”

Josh Grenada, a 10-year EMT engineer with the Orlando Fire Department, told News 6 he is still struggling with PTSD symptoms months after he saved 13 people during the Pulse shooting.

“The reality was I needed help," Grenada told News 6. “I couldn’t think of anything else, it’s all that consumed my mind.”

Grenada, who was dismissed from the Orlando Fire Department for a 30-second audio recording made during an emergency call, is convinced PTSD creates a stigma that is costing first responders their jobs.

On Monday, Eatonville first responder Omar Delgado was told he would not be able to continue his
position with the city of Eatonville.

A city council hearing, in that case, has been set for tomorrow night. Jessica Realin, the wife of Pulse first responder Gerry Realin, told News 6 the city of Orlando made “life very difficult” for her entire family.

Realin told News 6 that the passage of solid PTSD legislation would help hundreds of first responders.

“For those who are wanting to get treatment so they can get better and get back to work, it’s going to make an incredible difference to them," Realin said.

Book’s spokesperson said the incentive is the lives lost. There have been six first responder suicides in 2017.

“We found that more firefighters and law enforcement are dying from suicide than from in the line of duty deaths. We have a duty to change this unacceptable trend and get these fine dedicated men and women the help they need," Book’s spokesperson said.

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