The Colorado House has approved a bill to create a statewide, self-financed program of peer-to-peer and professional assistance to help Emergency Medical Services paramedics deal with the stresses of their job.
Rep. Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs), a retired battalion chief in the Colorado Springs Fire Department, sponsored the bill with Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo).
“Being an EMS paramedic is one of the most stressful jobs out there,” Exum said in a news release issued April 9 by House Democrats. “This bill gives emergency medical providers peer assistance when they are going through difficulties in their life and not able to perform their duties. We need to ensure that EMS workers are in the best shape physically and mentally to help save lives.”
SB19-065 creates a fund that will pay for a peer health assistance program which will evaluate, assist, and counsel EMS paramedics who are dealing with the stresses of their job.
Whenever an EMS worker becomes certified or renews their certification, a fee of $2.55 will be applied to create the program within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“Sometimes the toll and exposure to traumatic events in this position can frequently lead to depression, aggressive behaviors, substance abuse and even suicide,” according to the release. “If passed, this program can help EMS paramedics deal with many of these issues.”
SB19-065 passed by a voice vote in the House, and will receive a final vote at a later date.