A bill moving through the Idaho House this week would help first responders.
KPVI News that Works for You Deanne Coffin met with a former first responder who says this bill would help other first responders avoid the same fate as him if the bill passes.
“The worst day of people’s lives, that’s when we show up,” says Dustin Hale, Former First Responder.
Dustin Hale has worked for the Pocatello Fire Department as a paramedic for over five years.
He suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with symptoms beginning a few years into the job.
He says it’s affecting his family life.
“There’s a false persona that we come to work and then we leave it at the door when we leave. That’s not the truth. You know we take that with us. We take the pain of those families and the pain of those patients with us home and for a lot of people that comes out towards family and friends,” says Hale.
Hale says as a result of his Post-Traumatic Stress, it cost him his job at the fire department.
“Not as the department saying we don’t want you around anymore, it was more of, my symptoms were such as that I could not handle the job. I could not do the best of my ability of what the citizens deserve,” says Hale.
If Senate Bill 1028 passes, it would allow first responders like Hale to get workman’s compensation for a mental injury.
“For me it manifested as pretty extreme depression. There was some substance use with alcohol, just as a self-medication and the largest part was the sleep. I wouldn’t sleep sometimes for days because I would have such bad night terrors and nightmares, that I couldn’t sleep for more than just a few minutes at a time,” says Hale.
Andy Moldenhauer, President of the Pocatello Firefighters Local 187 Union, is in Boise this week with the Professional Firefighters of Idaho to support the legislation.
“One of the biggest things that happens is that this type of injury gets worse the longer you don’t address it and maybe if we had more active conversations or had more of a vehicle to be able to get that treatment earlier, then maybe Dustin would have been able to not be as injured as he was,” says Andy Moldenhauer, President of Pocatello Firefighters Local 187 Union.
Most likely this bill will be going to the House floor on Wednesday.