First Responder Peer Support Bill Passes House - NBC10 Boston


First Responder Peer Support Bill Passes House

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    Police Peer Support Bill Passes House

    First responders are one step closer to getting the help they desperately need as some struggle with what they encounter on the job every day.

    (Published Tuesday, July 31, 2018)

    Police, firefighters and paramedics in Massachusetts are closer to getting the help they need as some struggle with what they encounter on the job every day.

    A bill that has been stalled in the legislature for three years has taken a big step forward. Tuesday, a peer support bill allowing all first responders to ask for help confidentially passed the House of Representatives. It passed the Senate unanimously last week.

    "Our first responders come into a scene in which, oftentimes, those folks that are affected are their close friends, family members," said Rep. Ted Speliotis, D-Danvers.

    Within minutes of a critical incident, such as the murders of police officers in Auburn, Yarmouth and Weymouth, peer support teams are on the scene to assist with the emotional side of what officers have witnessed. However, the day-to-day trauma also takes its toll.

    Officers Discuss Peer Support for Those Suffering From Mental Stress

    [NECN] Officers Discuss Peer Support for Those Suffering From Mental Stress

    Officers discuss how police from New York who experienced the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack supported police in Boston following the Boston Marathon bombing. 

    (Published Wednesday, July 11, 2018)

    Since the Boston Marathon bombings, McClain Hospital has treated over 500 first responders often referred by these critical teams.

    Tuesday brought emotional testimony from State Rep. Tim Whelan, a former Massachusetts State Police trooper. He told the story of a 24-year-old new officer.

    "As the officer runs up to the car, he can hear the lone female occupant yelling, 'Please help me, please help me.' As he got closer, the car went up in flames and that officer watched that young woman burn to death and there was nothing he could do. It was a helpless feeling he lived with that day and lived with him the rest of his career," Whelan recalled.

    First responders are often hesitant to step forward because of the stigma.

    "The only thing that helped bring him back when those memories haunted him in the middle of the night was access to emergency counselors on the state police. That police officer was me," Whelan said.

    According to the organization BLUE H.E.L.P. in Worcester, 74 police officers have committed suicide nationwide so far this year. The bill goes back to the Senate with a midnight deadline of Tuesday night. From there, it will go to the desk of Gov. Charlie Baker.

    Footage Shows Mom's Pleas as Baby is Rescued From Hot Car

    [NATL] Footage Shows Mom's Emotional Pleas After Baby Rescued From Hot Car

    Police released footage of a mother who said she accidentally left her 5-month-old in a car for half an hour in a Goodyear, Arizona, parking lot when she, her sister and other daughter went into the store. Officers are heard on camera saying it was about 99 degrees outside. 

    (Published Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019)

    If the bill passes, Massachusetts will join 22 other states with confidential peer support for first responders.

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