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Law will give first responders PTSD benefits

A new state law aims to help first responders battle Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Crystal Murphy loved helping people.

That’s why she became a Lacey firefighter/EMT.

“She was passionate about her job,” said wife Heather Murphy, “but that’s hard when your passion is at odds with taking care of your own health.”

Crystal Murphy committed suicide last December.

Heather Murphy said Crystal had been struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after nearly a decade of stressful, everyday work.

“The irregular sleep cycle, sleep deprivation, and the traumatic calls. There were a few in particular, really traumatic calls that just stuck with her,” said Murphy.

She said Crystal knew she had PTSD and started seeing a psychologist about it, but she was reluctant to come forward at work because of the stigma and a fear of losing her job.

Under a state law signed by Governor Jay Inslee Friday, the Department of Labor and Industries can now pay worker’s compensation claims for first responders who suffer PTSD from their work experiences.

In the past, those claims were denied unless the illness could be attributed to a single incident, said Michael White, legislative liaison for the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters.

“I think this allows for firefighters and cops to be fixed when our job breaks us,” said White.

Murphy was standing next to the governor when he signed the bill.

She said Crystal was with her.

“I was wearing her union necklace,” said Murphy. “I think she’d be so proud of everyone’s work… to make sure there are no more Crystals.”

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