The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed legislation to provide critical mental health resources to fire and EMS personnel.
The Helping Emergency Responders Overcome (HERO) Act will develop peer mental health training programs and resources to educate mental health professionals about the needs of first responders.
The bill will also create a national data system to collect information about first responder suicides to better treat those in need of assistance.
“I thank the House for addressing this important issue for America’s first responders,” said Chief Richard Carrizzo, the president and chairman of the board of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “America’s fire and EMS personnel are on the front lines every day serving their community in response to COVID-19, wildland fires, hurricanes, and civil unrest along with daily fire and EMS calls I urge the Senate to pass this legislation quickly so that President Trump can sign it.”
The bill was sponsored by Representative Ami Bera (D-CA).
“While our nation’s first responders already experience higher mental health stress and higher risk of suicide than many other professions, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is only increasing those burdens,” Bera said in a statement. “Our first responders must now bear the additional mental burdens that daily exposure to the virus brings, especially in light of insufficient personal protective equipment for first responders.”