TRENTON – The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today advanced bipartisan legislation sponsored by state Sen. Diane Allen and Fred Madden to protect the confidentiality of conversations between emergency services personnel and peer counselors. The bill, S-2840, also provides that peer counselors are privileged against examination as a witness in civil or criminal proceedings.
“Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians respond daily to dangerous calls and horrific tragedies that can cause them to suffer high levels of stress, anxiety and depression,” said Allen (R-Burlington). “These brave men and women deserve every opportunity to seek the help they need in dealing with the ill effects of their service. Assuring that conversations with a peer counselor are confidential and protected will go a long way in helping some feel comfortable in taking advantage of help that’s available to them.”
Currently, some emergency services departments provide peer counseling, debriefing and support services for their members who experience traumatic incidents. The principal role of the peer counselors is to talk with the affected emergency services personnel about the incident.
“Hopefully, with the assurance of confidentiality more and more personnel will be willing to participate in these extremely worthwhile programs and receive the help they need,” Allen concluded.
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