Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos participates in a Labor Committee meeting Monday voting in support of HB157 to provide support for firefighters suffering from PTSD. Photo by Michael Redondo
- HB157 Establishes PTSD as Disease that May Result from Firefighters’ Duties
After passing the House Labor and Economic Development Committee Monday, House Bill 157, legislation that establishes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a disease that—when diagnosed in a firefighter without previous health issues—can be presumed to have been caused by the firefighter’s service, now heads to the House floor.
“Yes, our firefighters are heroes, but they are also human,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Debbie Armstrong. “We ask so much of them—from running into burning buildings to pulling victims out of mangled cars. It’s time we let them know that we understand the real intensity of the work they do and the consequences it can have on their mental health.”
Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, (D-Los Alamos) voted in support of HB 157, which simply adapts existing New Mexico law to expand the definition of “Firefighter Occupational Diseases” to include PTSD.
“Firefighters risk their lives every day when they go to work,” Armstrong said, “and they take that risk to keep all of us safe. Whether it’s the result of one truly devastating event or the cumulative impact of being on the scene for many horrific tragedies, firefighters can develop PTSD, and they need to be able to seek treatment.”
HB 157 passed HLEDC by a vote of 9-2. The full House is expected to vote on HB 157 later this week.