Over 5,000 people sign petition to add EMS personnel to PTSD bill

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There is controversy over a bill at the Capitol about support for first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The deal, which passed through committee this week, provides up to one year of workers' compensation coverage for police officers and firefighters, but emergency medical service personnel are missing from the bill.

As of Thursday evening, more than 5,200 people had signed a petition to add emergency medical service personnel to the bill. The petition was started by Derrick Caranci, a paramedic from North Canaan.

Caranci called the announcement about the bipartisan proposal bittersweet because he says police and fire will get the stress benefits they need but paramedics and EMTs, who are often exposed to the same traumatic events, will be left out.

Marc Hartog is the deputy director of Westport EMS, and says EMS providers see the same things and are involved in the same situations as police officers and firefighters.

 The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities was involved in writing the bill. When asked why EMS was left out, CCM executive director Joe Delong touched on the potential financial implications. But he said the proposal is just a beginning.

 “We think it's a very good bill. It's not a perfect bill but in many ways it's a perfect start to moving us in the right direction,” says Delong.

 Caranci says he intends to send his petition to lawmakers in the hope of changing the wording of the bill.

Legislative leaders expect the bill will be approved by both the House and Senate.

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