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PTSD now covered under workman’s compensation for first responders in Idaho

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IDAHO FALLS — As of Monday, post-traumatic stress disorder is now covered by workman’s compensation for first responders.

In the 2019 Idaho legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill making PTSD in first responders coverable by workman’s compensation. Governor Brad Little signed the bill into law on March 12. That law went into effect Monday.

“It’s a good thing. When they start studying PTSD, and you look at some of our volunteers, and you look at all the firefighters in general, I can see where it’s going to benefit some of the people,” Central Fire District Fire Chief Carl Anderson said.

Before this law was passed, PTSD was only covered by workman’s compensation if the first responder also sustained a physical injury as well. Now, they only need to show “clear and convincing” evidence of a psychological injury for worker’s compensation to cover their treatment.

“Clear and convincing evidence is a very high standard that’s put to a licensed clinician when assessing a patient for an injury. In other words, they have demonstrated clear and convincing evidence that it was caused by the workplace,” House Minority Leader Rep. Matthew Erpelding, D-Boise, said in a previous interview.

Anderson said first responders haven’t had good avenues to be able to work through difficult calls they’ve taken or responded to.

“The PTSD Bill, I think, is a great avenue for first responders, firefighters, law enforcement and everything,” Anderson said.

The law defines “first responder” as peace officers, firefighters, volunteer emergency responders, emergency medical service providers, 911 operators and dispatchers.

Other laws now in effect

Pet-friendly license plates

Governor Brad Little signed into law a bill creating pet-friendly license plates on March 15. Those license plates are now available to purchase and place on vehicles. The license plates are meant to help provide funds for the Idaho Humane Society.

In addition to the regular registration and renewal fees, the pet-supporting plates cost $35 when they are first issued, and $25 for each annual renewal. Of this money, the Humane Society keeps $22 from the first payment for the license plate and $12 per renewal. The rest goes to the state highway fund.

Opioid overdose antidotes

The Idaho House and Senate unanimously passed a bill giving Idaho one of the broadest naloxone-access laws in the country. The law allows any licensed health professional to give out the opioid overdose counteracting drug to anyone that “has (a) valid reason to be in the possession of an opioid antagonist.”

That means first responders, law enforcement, family members of addicts or addicts themselves can be prescribed the drug without a doctor’s visit.

The law also protects anyone prescribing the drug from liability.

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