House Passes HERO Act for First Responders
The House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday designed to increase mental health resources for firefighters and other first responders.
H.R. 1480—known as the Helping Emergency Responders Overcome (HERO) Act—was reintroduced by a bipartisan group of over 30 lawmakers earlier this year. That effort was led by Reps. Ami Bera (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and the bill is backed by the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Under the HERO Act, first responder suicide rates would be reported to Congress, and best practices and identifying risk factors would be created and distributed about the prevention and treatment of post-traumatic stress. Two grant programs also would be set up: one would train firefighters and paramedics to provide peer mental health support, and the other would train health care providers to step into a similar role at hospitals and medical offices.
“Our nation’s police officers, fire fighters, and EMTs put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect our community, so it’s our obligation to be there for them in their time of need by ensuring they have access to life-saving mental health care,” said Rep. Ami Bera in a statement.
The bill now goes before the Senate.