New Connecticut Law Presumes Post-Traumatic Stress in First Responders is Job-Related

October 11 • 2019

A new Connecticut law providing workers’ compensation coverage for fire fighters and police officers who witness a traumatic event in the line of duty and are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) is now in effect.

Noting the multi-year lobbying effort to pass the legislation, Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut (UPFFA) President Peter Carozza says, “The fight was long, but worth it. Connecticut now has a law that will save the lives of our members.”

Carozza worked with Waterbury Mayor Neil Michael O’Leary – the former Waterbury Chief of Police – to bring fire chiefs, fire fighters, police chiefs, police officers, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and health insurance representatives together to form a committee to discuss the need to better assist first responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress injury.

As fire and police leaders lobbied the state legislature, they emphasized that PTSI is an on-the-job injury just as any physical injury, such as a broken leg or gunshot wound. The message resonated with the Connecticut General Assembly, which voted unanimously in favor of the legislation.

With a packed room inside Waterbury’s Engine 10 station, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed the bill in July. Speaking at the bill signing, General President Harold Schaitberger said, “We are one state closer to our goal that is recognizing PTSI as an occupational injury. This is important — it’s about saving lives and providing the support and the care needed.”

Specifically, the new law covers fire fighters and police officers who have experienced one of six traumatic events, including witnessing a person’s death or dismemberment.

The law does not cover correction officers or EMTs. But, it does include funding for a study to determine if it can be expanded to include those workers. This issue will be addressed in next year’s legislative session.