The Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Act (HERO) Act of 2021, S 2700, has been reintroduced in the U.S. Senate. The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Deb Fischer (R-NE), serves as companion legislation to HR 1480 in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Fire fighters and emergency medical responders deal with traumatic events on the job every day. It is a fact that the toll of these experiences directly cause psychological injuries and behavioral health issues. Sadly, we have lost some of our sisters and brothers to these job-related hazards,” says General President Ed Kelly. “I thank Senators Rosen and Fischer for their strong leadership in tackling the issue of fire fighter mental health. We must ensure the HERO Act advances through the Senate expeditiously and lands on the president’s desk as quickly as possible.”
Once passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Biden, the proposed legislation will address mental health issues affecting fire fighters and emergency medical responders in four crucial ways:
- Establishing a new grant program to train fire fighters to serve as peer counselors
- Directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create new guidelines for fire departments on identifying and preventing post-traumatic stress disorder
- Allowing the CDC to provide mental health professionals with information on stressors and exposures unique to fire fighters and evidence-based therapies to treat psychological issues common to fire fighters
- Creating a database to gather statistics on suicide among public safety officers
The introduction of the Senate bill follows passage of HR 1480 in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. The IAFF has long served as a leader in mental health wellness for fire fighters and emergency medical responders and is committed to the enactment of this important legislation in the 117th Congress.