Bill to Help Mass. First Responders Get Help Continues to Stall - NBC10 Boston

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Bill to Help Mass. First Responders Get Help Continues to Stall

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    Call for Help for First Responders

    Many first responders feel they can ask for help without losing their jobs. A bill that could help is stuck at the State House

    (Published Thursday, March 1, 2018)

    Massachusetts first responders say they are stressed and know if they ask for help, they could lose their job. House Bill 1242 would allow emergency responders to get help -- peer to peer support. By law, it would remain confidential.

    Thirty-two representatives have signed on in support. It has support of eight unions representing police, fire and EMS. That includes the Massachusetts Chief of Police Association.

    The bill has stalled three years in a row. Theodore Speliotis chairs the committee where the bill is stalled again.

    "We are getting closer," Speliotis said.

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    One concern has been transparency.

    "In the legislation, it says no criminal acts can be protected," Speliotis said.

    He wants to be sure "that the public is protected knowing there is appropriate transparency within our first responders."

    The bill also requires no money.

    Our reports highlight the need for help.

    "With cops, if we come forward, we lose our gun, our job, our credibility," said retired Boston Police Sgt. Brian Fleming.

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    Karen Solomon of Worcester founded Blue Help, which offers assistance to officers. She says in Massachusetts

    "Recently, an officer reached out for help and he needed psychological help and his department fired him," she said.

    Firefighters in Worcester confirm on the job, "You will be exposed to post traumatic stress."

    Speliotis says no one has come forward with any opposition.

    "To me, the most credible people are the police chiefs endorsing the legislation," he said. "They're the superiors."

    "I am stunned and frustrated it hasn't passed," Peabody Police Chief Tom Griffin told NBC10 Boston Investigators. "People we are trying to help are hesitating and they don't get the help they need."

    Speliotis says he is advocating for the bill. There are three people on the committee for third readings.

    "I am advocating," he said. "I am pushing my colleagues and I am kind of hoping they can move the bill."

    Meanwhile, first responders sent a letter to every lawmaker asking the bill to pass. The letter listed traumatic events such as officers being shot and other EMS calls as examples of why they need help.


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