Nebraska state senator promoting mental care for first responders

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Sen. Tom Brewer brought Legislative Bill 963 to hearing Monday that would give first responders with post traumatic stress disorder better mental health care.

Nebraska is looking to give first responders better mental health care for PTSD.

If the bill were to pass, new first responders would take a mental health exam before going on the job. Current first responders would get education on mental health first.

According to the bill, first responders could get the mental health care to help with PTSD and would get the cost reimbursed by Health and Human Services. In order to receive care, those affected by PTSD must show a change mentally from their original test.

Dozens of first responders were at the hearing and testified in support of the bill. This included 10-year first responder Tyler Fausset who said he suffers from PTSD.

"It provides the continuing education for not just myself but for all members across the state," Fausset said. "It's where we build a resiliency and ability to bounce back and be able to cope with significant events."

According to International Association of Fire Fighters' Center of Excellence Community Outreach Director Myrrhanda Jones said 1 in 5 first responders say they suffer from PTSD.

"This is happening, that PTSD is real," Jones said. "These members desperately need help. They desperately need preventative actions so they don't get as far to the point where suicide is there only option."

Opponents of the bill said it is a good idea, but needs to have some wording fixed. This included the portion that said clergy members of a recognized denomination are considered mental health professionals.

Opponents also said they plan to work with Sen. Brewer to make the bill well rounded with better wording.