Senator Madden Bill Re-Establishing Fire and EMS Crisis Hotline Heads to Governor’s Desk

Senator Madden’s legislation, S2898, that would establish a 24 hour crisis hotline for fire and EMS professionals and their families heads to the Governor’s desk after clearing its last major legislative hurdle in December when the Assembly passed the bill with a vote of 76-0. The bill previously passed the full Senate with a vote of 39-0 in January of 2019.

Our fire and emergency services personnel are currently underserved when it comes to coping with the stresses of their duties. Since the discontinuation of the hotline in 2009, there has been a void in the treatment of those professionals who need help most. Presently, fire and emergency service personnel may contact the similar Cop2Cop hotline; however, as the names suggests, this hotline has been tailored to serve the law enforcement community, and the operators of this hotline are not equipped to handle the specific stresses that firefighters and emergency services personnel face day to day.

The Hotline would operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and would service fire and EMS professionals and their families experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, or any other psychological or emotional disorder or condition. Specially trained operators would be available to help callers with the varying stresses that come from their duties. The conversations would be confidential. However, the Division of Fire Safety in consultation with Rutgers University would be permitted to establish guidelines for the monitoring of any fire or emergency services caller who exhibits signs of an extreme psychological or emotional condition that could result in harm to themselves or others.

The bill is now awaiting consideration by the Governor.