BOSTON – The House of Representatives has given preliminary approval to legislation allowing peer to peer counseling for emergency service providers.
Senate Bill 2633, An Act Relative to Critical Incident Intervention by Emergency Service Providers, was engrossed by the House on a unanimous vote of 151-0 on July 31, with the support of State Representative William Crocker, R-Centerville. “My office received many calls from members of the law enforcement community in support of this bill and I was able to hear firsthand from an officer, who had been a peer supporter, just how beneficial this program is. Critical incident intervention through peer to peer support is integral to the men and women in the law enforcement, fire services, and first responders communities to maintain their ability to do their jobs and stay safe for themselves, their families, and their communities.” This legislation would come at no cost to the Commonwealth.
The bill would allow for first responders to counsel their fellow first responders after undergoing a situation that leaves them with psychological stress or trauma. Additionally, the bill provides that a critical incident stress management team member or emergency service provider shall not be required to testify or divulge information obtained solely during the receipt of critical incident stress management or crisis intervention services. Furthermore, it requires that information divulged to a critical incident stress management team member during the provision of critical incident stress management team and crisis intervention services be kept confidential, except under certain limited circumstances.
The bill now moves again to both the House and the Senate for final enactment and then to the Governor’s desk for a signature.