First responders in Ohio are unable to file for workers’ compensation unless they were physically injured. This, for some, has proven to be unfair in the big scheme of things. First responders can experience a level of heart wrenching stress many of us will never relate to.
Katherin Hardin stood before lawmakers, in her hand was a photo of her 28-year-old son, Trever Murphy, a former firefighter with Orange Township Fire Department in Delaware.
She told lawmakers he hung himself, a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hardin said her son suffered from the same on the job mental stresses.
“My son Trever was the last line of duty suicide in a central fire department,” she said.
“A little girl died in my son’s arms and he struggled very bad with that. His last call was for a man trapped in a car with gasoline pouring on both of them. When he was able to release the gentleman from the seat belt he fell dead in his arms and that devastated my son, it completely broke him,” she told members of the House Finance Committee.
Journal of Emergency Medical Services reports in a 2015 survey of more than 4,000 first responders, that 37% had contemplated suicide and almost 7% had attempted it. That is more than 10 times the rate of the general population.
That is why this mother urged lawmakers to change the law.
“As a grieving mother I ask that this committee to please consider House Bill 80 and what it would do to help our first responders,” she said,
Her story won their approval. It’s a small victory for people like Benjamin Thompson, a Cincinnati firefighter who has struggled with PTSD for 16-years but isn’t allowed to file a claim for workers’ compensation.
“It’s extremely frustrating you end up suffering in silence because people can’t see a physical injury and people tend to lean that you’re not telling the truth,” he said.
Members of the business community like the Ohio Manufacturers Association and the National Federation of Independent Business Association are against changing the law. They told the committee it would cost businesses more money to pay out more claims, it will add bureaucracy, and more important they say it will open the door to abuse by workers who will claim they have PTSD because they had a stressful day at work.
Tuesday’s vote means House Bill 80 now goes to the rules committee.