When first responders are dispatched to a location, they don’t always know what they are going to find. They could be responding to a relatively harmless fender-bender or a call to help a cat stuck in a tree. Or, they can come onto the scene to find something much more horrifying. Accidents, natural disasters, and incidents that take human lives are all very real

First responders include police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services (EMS), and any other professionals trained to respond to an emergency. These jobs are high-stress and expose responders to traumatic events. As a result, an estimated 34% of first responders have received a formal Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnosis – though the number is likely even higher.

PTSD can be devastating to those who have it, as they may experience emotional numbness, sleep disorders, hyper-vigilance and a higher likelihood of substance abuse. This disorder can affect how you function in your day-to-day life.

Minnesota responds to the needs of responders

As we come to understand more about the damaging effects of PTSD in first responders, Minnesota continues to take steps in the right direction. First responders in Minnesota have been allowed to apply for workers’ comp due to PTSD since 2013. This law was a victory, but those who applied found themselves needing to jump a hurdle: proving that their PTSD is job-related.

A relatively new law went into effect in 2019, which offers relief to some emergency responders: when employees in certain emergency response jobs are diagnosed with PTSD, it is legally presumed to be due to job-related circumstances, unless there is a prior diagnosis. This law applies to firefighters, emergency medical technicians, police officers and correction officers.

This law will help emergency personal who suffer from PTSD, as there are fewer obstacles keeping them from obtaining workers’ compensation. The law shows compassion for the suffering that emergency personnel can experience as they fight to keep Minnesotan citizens safe. These evolving Minnesota laws send the message that we care about our emergency responders and we are grateful for their service.