San Diego Police officers. Courtesy U.S. Department of Transportation

The city of San Diego’s Risk Management, Fire-Rescue and Police departments launched a collaboration with the health services organization Cigna Wednesday to offer behavioral health treatment to first responders and law enforcement officials.

The city and Cigna will offer behavioral wellness treatment to first responders and local law enforcement to help them cope with traumatic and high-stress situations while on the job. According to the city, the collaboration is the first of its kind in the country, allowing first responders from anywhere in the U.S. to receive behavioral healthcare in San Diego as long as their insurance provider approves it.

First responders and law enforcement officers will be able to receive behavioral health care at Aurora Behavioral Health Care San Diego, True North Recovery Services, the Alvarado Parkway Institute and First Responders First.

“Cigna has contracted with several facilities to offer residential and out-patient treatment for our first responders,” said Julio Canizal, director of the city’s Risk Management Department. “The care providers have received training from firefighters, police officers and clinicians who have extensive experience treating first responders.”

The three departments began conceptualizing a healthcare program tailored to first responders roughly two years ago after discussing the limitations of healthcare limitations at that time. The city asked its insurance providers to help by expanding coverage for first responders and law enforcement officials, leading to the partnership.

“The health and wellness of our employees is one of our top goals,” said city Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell. “Public safety employees spend their careers helping others, but often are reluctant to ask for help. … We are so fortunate to be the first organization in the nation to offer these first responder treatment options.”

–City News Service