AMU Diseases Emergency Management Health & Fitness Homeland Security Law Enforcement Legislation Mental Health Original Public Safety

PTSD Legislation Needed as Active Shootings Increase

Start a emergency and disaster management degree at American Military University.

By Allison G. S. Knox, faculty member at American Military University 

In the last few years, there has been growing momentum around public safety professionals receiving mental healthcare due to the nature of their work. Some of these discussions have followed the same arguments for Afghanistan and Iraq veterans who have received mental health services for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While there has been a growing emphasis on mental health services for veterans, there has been a growing need for first responders to receive mental health services, too.

[Related: Changing Organizational Culture to Improve Mental Health]

The U.S. has experienced a remarkable increase in active shooter incidents. These troubling events have also contributed to PTSD problems within the public safety community.

[Related: Helping First Responders Recover After Las Vegas Shooting]

Developing PTSD Policies and Legislation

Many political scientists argue that what happens in society has a direct effect on the development of new policies. But the development of political policies is often a complicated process.

Political science scholars often use different theories and concepts to explain the political process and how new policies emerge in the American government system. Understanding how policies emerge is important for understanding a policy’s creation.

Social scientists have spent a great deal of time researching how a community and the greater society’s interests and needs affect policy development and formation. One of the most famous research involves John Kingdon, who developed the Multiple Streams Analysis Framework.

Kingdon observed that policies, politics, and problems essentially emerge from society and come together to create new federal policies. Kingdon’s arguments are certainly insightful for how they help to explain the influences of society on the American political system.

Mass Shootings and Their Impact on First Responders’ Mental Health

The discussion for PTSD legislation has definitely increased for the public safety community.  The unfortunate reality is that the United States has experienced an unprecedented amount of mass casualty incidents, causing trauma for first responders who have worked upsetting sciences. These events have brought forth a lot of discussion about mental healthcare in the U.S., especially concerning the fact that the shooters were clearly mentally unstable and should have received proper treatment.

[Read a four-part series on addressing challenges related to workers’ compensation legislation and pension benefits for psychological injuries. Start here.]

Providing at-risk individuals with earlier and better mental health services prior to a violent incident could not only save victims’ lives, but also tax dollars in the long run. In Newtown, Connecticut, for instance, a police officer who worked the Sandy Hook shootings was left with debilitating PTSD and couldn’t work. He required long-term mental healthcare, and the state eventually had to pay him $380,000 in compensation for living with PTSD.

Creating Support for PTSD Legislation

The horrendous problem of mass casualty incidents in the United States is tremendously tragic, and the horrors that first responders experience on the job deserves adequate mental healthcare. Ultimately, these events may raise awareness of the mental health service needs for public safety professionals and create more support for PTSD legislation across the country.

About the Author: Allison G. S. Knox is an emergency medical technician and a political scientist, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, Allison worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, and International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and also serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia for the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. To contact the author, email For more articles featuring insight from industry experts, subscribe to In Public Safety’s bi-monthly newsletter.

Allison G. S. Knox teaches in the fire science and emergency management departments at American Military University and American Public University. Focusing on emergency management and emergency medical services policy, she often writes and advocates about these issues. Allison serves as an Intermittent Emergency Management Specialist with the Department of Health and Human Services, as At-Large Director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and as Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees with Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences. She is also chair of Pi Gamma Mu’s Leadership Development Program. Prior to teaching, Allison worked for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. and in a Level One trauma center emergency department. She is an emergency medical technician and holds multiple graduate degrees.

Comments are closed.