First Responder Crisis Intervention Bill Signed into Law in Massachusetts

The new law will require the state's police and fire stations to offer crisis intervention services to assist first responders who are coping with psychological trauma or stress.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed Senate Bill 2633 into law Jan. 16, ensuring first responders won’t be penalized for seeking counseling after experiencing trauma on the job.

The new law will require the state's police and fire stations to offer crisis intervention services. The critical incident stress management teams will assist first responders who are coping with psychological trauma or stress, according to WWLP.

"Providing law enforcement officers with the ability to confidentially seek guidance from their peers will help them cope with the events they experience in the line of duty," Baker said, according to the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle. "We are thankful for the Legislature and law enforcement for their advocacy on this bill to increase support for services and reduce stigma around mental health issues."

Members of the stress management team will be appointed, and police and fire chiefs will personally choose people from their staff to provide peer support. Members of the stress management team will be bound by confidentiality, prohibited to disclose personal information, and cannot be forced to testify in court.

"Police officers, firefighters, and paramedics work every day under demanding circumstances, and responding to critical incidents can have a direct, negative impact on the mental health of first responders," Sen. Michael O. Moore said. "Confidentiality is an essential piece of comprehensive mental health services, and this bill will encourage greater participation and improved mental health for these brave men and women."

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