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L.A. County addresses firefighter trauma

First responders late Tuesday night escorted the body of Tory Carlon from Fire Station 81 to the coroner's office in Los Angeles. Cory Rubin / For The Signal.
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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to work toward addressing workplace traumas in the L.A. County Fire Department.

The motion follows the Fire Station 81 shooting in Agua Dulce earlier this month, where a fire specialist shot two colleagues, killing one and injuring another, before fatally shooting himself.

“The selfless efforts of our first responders takes an emotional and mental toll, not only on those placing themselves on the frontlines, but also on their families,” said county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley.

Through the pandemic, many firefighters were separated from their families as they worked increased hours and multiple shifts, Barger noted.

“As the county begins to reopen and the trauma our first responders have experienced over the past 18 months will be realized, it is imperative that we take action now to provide them with the support and care they need, just as they provided us with the support and care we needed during this pandemic,” Barger added.

The motion directs the Fire Department, with the support of other county departments, to prepare a report exploring the “feasibility of developing a mechanism to address workplace trauma or potential workplace trauma.”

Strategies included in the motion include planned mental health visits with Fire Department personnel and their families, analyzing workers compensation treatment tools, reducing the frequency of staff recall, reducing vacancies, providing peer support groups and streamlining communications, among others.

Sexual predator motion fails

Another motion authored by Barger that would have notified the board when a sexually violent predator is released into the community failed Tuesday, as three supervisors opposed it.

“It is essential that placements of sexually violent predators into local communities are made with the collaboration of all those impacted to ensure that appropriate services are provided and public safety is ensured,” Barger said in a statement. “I am disappointed that my colleagues have chosen to turn their backs on what should be a fair and equitable process to provide a voice for everyone involved.”

The motion would have asked the district attorney and sheriff to begin notifying the board any time the California Department of State Hospitals makes a recommendation to the Superior Court to send a person committed as a sexually violent predator to outpatient treatment in the community.

“I remain committed to supporting my communities and residents,” Barger added in the statement. “I will continue to aggressively pursue advanced notification so my constituents are aware any time the state makes a recommendation to send a person committed as a sexually violent predator into a 5th District community.”

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