BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act is a bill designed to ensure Louisiana’s first responders, police and 911 personnel have access to mental health resources that would allow them to cope with traumatic stress.

The bill moved closer to becoming a law Tuesday when it passed the U.S. Senate. The proposed law will next go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The proposed legislation focuses on helping first responders because the intensity of their jobs can result in long-term mental health effects.

Baton Rouge EMS Public Information Officer Brad Harris alluded to the toll these careers can take, saying, “Generally speaking, paramedics respond to all kinds of emergencies. So, they’re constantly faced with situations that the general public are not. This means they see traumatic situations and they also deal with death on a regular basis. This can build up over time. If they don’t have a good support system or someone to talk to, they can bottle up their stress and over time, it can pour out in bad ways.”

Last March, the Annual Louisiana Instructors & Firefighters Training (LIFT) Conference addressed this topic by including courses related to mental health care and suicide prevention within its agenda.

Now, a number of lawmakers hope the Fighting PTSD Act will ensure that similar forms of care are readily available to Louisiana’s first responders on a consistent basis.

The bill had many supporters, including Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who shared his hopes for the proposed law, saying, “The House must now send this crucial legislation to the president’s desk so that first responders can receive the resources they need to care for their own health while they serve Louisiana communities.”

Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and
Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also cosponsored the bill.

Click here to read the bill.