MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — First responders are sounding the alarm to lawmakers, pushing for post-traumatic stress disorder coverage. The urgency comes after a stressful year for all first responders.
Gene Necklaus, the first chief in Scottsboro, recalls one of the worst tragedies of his 22-year career.
“A prime example would be, you know, the event we had here locally in January, where we ended up eight fatalities and included an entire family,” Necklaus said.
Those eight people were killed in what is known as the Scottsboro boat fire.
Necklaus says that continues to stick with his firefighters, which is why he supports PTSD funding or first responders.
“That peer support is great, but a lot of times these folks need professional help,” Necklaus said. “You need somebody to talk to who knows what they’re talking about.”
This year alone, first responders have dealt with a pandemic and protests centered around racial tensions.
“I can’t recall a time probably since the 60s that has been a more challenging time to be a police officer in law enforcement,” Greg Cochran said.
The Alabama League of Municipalities is pushing for legislation that would provide funding for treatment for PTSD.
“We need to make sure that they come to work healthy, both physically and mentally and that they’re ready to deal with the day’s challenges before them,” Cochran said.
This is an issue that the league of municipalities is working on for their 2021 legislative agenda.