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North East, Ms. (WCBI)-Some police officers and fire fighters who responded to the Newtown school shooting are are having a hard time collecting benefits while they take personal time after the tragic event. What kind of benefits our first responders are entitled to after a traumatic event.

Police officers and fire fighters risk their lives every day keeping their communities safe. Some events can have a traumatic affect that force first responders to take time to adjust before returning back to active duty. Jackie Benson, the city clerk for Aberdeen says they offer benefits, but are limited.

“We do an employee assistance program, but that is through our health insurance. The city is kind of limited to some of what we can offer,” says Jackie Benson.

In order for first responders in Aberdeen to receive benefits, Jackie says they may have to take a longer leave than expected.

“Some of that is regulated by the state of Mississippi you are going to have to be off work before you can come back of course with a doctor’s excuse. Doctor would have to say you’re able to come back to work,” Benson.

Despite the limited assistance, fellow police officers and fire fighters can lend a helping hand to their co-workers.

“Through the state if one of the employees are out, if in extreme emergencies some of the employees can donate some of their sick leave to them,” says Benson.

Each city and County differ when it comes to benefits for police and fire fighters. Patricia Mitchell, the Human Resource Director for the city of Columbus, says the benefits they offer are usually through worker’s comp.

“If an employee is either injured in the line of duty or their exposed to some type of traumatic event. And having difficulty returning back to work our worker’s comp group would kick in and compensate two thirds of their income. They have accrue sick leave as well as the attorney general’s office has a plan in public to supplement their income,” says Patricia Mitchell.

Receiving benefits can be an easy process, as long as the assistance is needed.

“No, I don’t think it’s a difficult process if need exist. Want to insure that they are one hundred percent and they can performs at one hundred percent before they return to work,” says Mitchell.

Police and fire fighters must go through a physical test in Aberdeen and Columbus before returning to work.

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