Workers’ Comp, Health Care Bills Go To Scott

Mar 14, 2018

Three health care-related bills, including one to expand workers’ compensation insurance benefits for injured first responders, were sent Monday to Gov. Rick Scott. 

It’s been close to a month since the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead and 15 more injured. In a city neighboring Parkland, one museum is making art therapy for students a weekly ritual. 


Kathryn Doll is an art therapist and one of the licensed clinical social workers leading the art healing group at the Coral Springs Museum of Art.

Josh Vandegrift was just starting a 24-hour shift for the Cocoa Fire Department on Florida’s Space Coast when the call came in: A pedestrian had been hit by a vehicle about 100 yards from the station where he worked.

Florida legislators passed a bill this week that would make first responders eligible for workers compensation if they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Christopher Hopfner / Flickr

First responders being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder could soon have extended benefits under a bill passed Monday by the Florida Legislature. 

Christopher Hopfner / Flickr

Firefighters, police officers and other first responders could get workers' compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder under a bill passed by the Florida Senate.

Peter Haden/WLRN

A Florida bill to assist first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder has found new life in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

It is standard protocol for police, firefighters, and paramedics to run toward the danger. Over time, that can take a toll on the mental health of first responders. Now, a measure in Florida’s Legislature is focusing on protecting first responders who experience PTSD as a result of such a stressful job. 

Florida lawmakers want first responders to get workers’ compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder. But the House bill would only give them a year to file a claim. 


Former Orlando police officer Gerry Realin isn't the same since he spent five hours in the Pulse nightclub among the bodies of those killed in what was then the nation's deadliest mass shooting.

Plan Would Aid First Responders With PTSD

Jan 17, 2018
Christopher Hopfner / Flickr

A Senate panel on Tuesday gave the nod to a bill that would help first responders receive workers’ compensation insurance benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder without accompanying physical injuries.

Among the many bills to be considered during Florida’s 2018 legislative session is legislation that would offer alternative treatments to veterans with post-traumatic stress.


The city of Orlando was in court Monday arguing against paying workers compensation benefits to a police officer with post-traumatic stress disorder.


The attorney for a Pulse first responder blames the City of Orlando and Orlando Police Department for exacerbating the officer’s anxiety, preventing him from returning to work.

First responders run towards crashes, emergencies and catastrophes, not away from them. And for some, their experiences are leading to post traumatic stress disorder. But in Florida, first responders who develop PTSD on the job don’t get compensated, unless they have a physical injury as well. Now there are efforts at the statehouse to change that. A note to listeners, the following story includes frank discussion of death and suicide.

City of Orlando Police Department

Call it a mixed day for advocates of expanding treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders.

In Tallahassee, a bill to expand workers’ compensation benefits to first responders with PTSD cleared its first committee Tuesday. But the city of Eatonville could vote tonight to fire Omar Delgado, a police officer who developed PTSD responding to the Pulse nightclub shooting.

A bill to expand workers’ compensation coverage to first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder is getting a hearing Tuesday in Tallahassee. The Senate’s banking and insurance committee will take up one of two bills filed. Florida first responders can get medical benefits for PTSD but aren’t eligible for other benefits like lost wages.


An Orlando fire fighter is hitting back after being fired last week.


The Orlando Police Pension Board voted to give officer Gerry Realin a disability pension.

Realin was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after cleaning up the bodies in Pulse nightclub last year. WMFE Health Reporter Abe Aboraya spoke with All Things Considered Host Crystal Chavez.


An Orlando police officer with post-traumatic stress disorder from the Pulse nightclub shooting gets his last paycheck today.

A Pulse first responder will receive his final paycheck next Thursday after post-traumatic stress disorder has left him out of work for about a year.

Gerry Realin says he wishes he had never become a police officer.

Realin, 37, was part of the hazmat team that responded to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando on June 12, 2016. He spent four hours taking care of the dead inside the club. Now, triggers like a Sharpie marker or a white sheet yank him out of the moment and back to the nightclub, where they used Sharpies to list the victims that night and white sheets to cover them.

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After the Pulse nightclub shooting, mental health organizations mobilized to provide counseling.

The Mental Health Association of Central Florida used a grant to create a new program to help people affected by the shooting with free mental health counseling. Now, they’re looking for funding to keep operating. 

A bill to increase mental health funding for law enforcement officers has passed the U.S. Senate.


Gerry Realin wishes he had never become a police officer.

Realin was part of the Hazmat team that responded to the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando. He spent four hours taking care of the dead inside the club. Now, triggers like a marker or a white sheet yank him out of the moment and back to Pulse.

A Healthy Escape From Jail

May 10, 2017

This is a warm, welcoming place. There are big windows that let the sunshine flood in—windows hung with gauzy curtains, prayer flags, and embroidery hoops.

The room is shabby chic, almost like a church basement or a community center. Someplace you’d go to talk and laugh and re-connect with people in your life. 

Funding for a clinic to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans and Pulse first responders has been cut from Florida’s budget.


U.S. Representative Val Demings is proposing a bill that would make grant money available to help police departments treat first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Firefighters are three times more likely to die from suicide than to die in the line of duty, according to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.