DENVER (CBS4)– Some Colorado lawmakers are calling for help for those who help us in emergencies. A loophole in state law has prevented 911 operators and dispatchers from using workers compensation when they experience emotional trauma.
The current law states that emergency workers must see something traumatizing, hearing it doesn’t count. The bill would close that loophole.
“They get calls from someone considering suicide to someone screaming because they just came home and what they found, it may be somebody in cardiac arrest, where the person calling may need to do CPR,” said Denver 911 director Athena Butler. “Our job is to try to manage that, calmly, to get them to a state that we can really understand what they’re saying, what they’re reporting, where they are. Very quick decisions have to be made, very accurate decisions have to be made. And this is constantly with the calls that come into our 911 centers. The people who come in to this job, they come in because they want to help people, but there’s so much more to it when it comes to helping people.”
Butler said the cumulative trauma of the job contributes to high turnover.
The bipartisan bill received full support and passed its first hearing on Wednesday.