The Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual Cap-to-Cap program provides attendees and our elected officials opportunities to foster and pass meaningful legislation that positively improves the quality of life for the Capital Region, and beyond.
The House of Representatives voted on September 21, 2020, to pass Representative Ami Bera’s Helping Emergency Responders Overcome (HERO) Act, legislation that would provide critical mental health resources to our nation’s first responders. Studies show that first responders are at an elevated risk of suicide compared to other professions and more first responders die by suicide than on the line of duty.
“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, M.D. “I am grateful that the House of Representatives passed the HERO Act, and I am incredibly proud to work for much needed mental health assistance for our first responders.”
The HERO Act directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to report to Congress each year on first responder suicide rates, including identifying risk factors, possible interventions, and recommended interventions for further study. It also requires HHS to develop and distribute best practices on the prevention and treatment of post traumatic stress among first responders.
Rep. Bera continued: “While our nation’s first responders already experience higher mental health stress and higher risk of suicide than many other professions, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is only increasing those burdens. Our first responders must now bear the additional mental burdens that daily exposure to the virus brings, especially in light of insufficient personal protective equipment for first responders. Today’s passage means we’re closer to ensuring mental health resources get to our first responders so that they are able to cope with the added stresses of completing their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Rep. Bera introduced the HERO Act in 2018 and was joined by Sacramento Police Chief Dan Hahn, and former Sacramento Metro Assistant Chief Maurice Johnson (currently the El Dorado Hills Fire Department Chief), and Sacramento-area first responders to announce the legislation. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced companion legislation in January of this year.