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Firefighter downtown Twin Falls

A firefighter gets geared up Dec. 25, 2015, at the Twin Falls Fire Department headquarters in downtown Twin Falls.

BOISE — A bill to extend worker’s compensation to first responders suffering from psychological injuries was signed into law by Gov. Brad Little on Tuesday.

The law will make police, firefighters and other first responders with “clear and convincing” evidence of a work-related psychological injury eligible for worker’s compensation. Under current statute, first responders with a mental injury are only eligible if they also have a physical injury.

“Senate Bill 1028 recognizes the very real challenges our first responders face every day,” Little said in a post on social media. “By acknowledging post traumatic stress injuries, we can help protect those who protect our Idaho communities.”

Twin Falls Fire Chief Les Kenworthy previously told the Times-News he believed the change in statute was needed, citing rising rates of post-traumatic stress injury and suicide among first responders.

“It happens too far often, and it’s happening more and more to firemen and police officers,” Kenworthy said. “There’s a new awareness for all of us, that we know we need to be more aware and look for different treatment options.”

The law isn’t expected to have a significant impact on the worker’s compensation program, but a sunset clause is built in so that lawmakers can make changes four years down the road if necessary.

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