Governor Charlie Baker signed Senate Bill 2633 on Wednesday to make sure first responders aren’t penalized for seeking counseling after a traumatic experience.
Under the new law, crisis intervention services will be required at police and fire stations across the state.
Critical incident stress management teams will help first responders who are coping with psychological stress or trauma.
“In our agency, we have a peer support group consisting of three officers who keep things confidential,” Amherst Police Chief Scott Livingstone said, “and that would be where they would start within our agency. So we have the protocols in place that would help those officers get the ball rolling and get the assistance they need.”
Stress management team members are appointed. Police and fire chiefs hand-pick people on their staff to provide peer support.
Those on the stress management team are bound by confidentiality and cannot disclose any personal information or be forced to testify in court.
At Wednesday’s signing ceremony, first responders thanked the Governor and legislators who worked on the bill for providing protections that they say was long overdue.