The Governor delivered checks to first responders employed by the Sanibel Fire & Rescue District, the Captiva Island Fire Control District, and the Upper Captiva Fire Protection & Rescue Service District.
These payments are distributed through the Florida Essential First Responder Recognition Payment Program which is part of historic legislation signed by Governor DeSantis to support first responders.
“We are proud of the hard work and selflessness that our first responders demonstrate every day, especially when communities are relying on them more than ever,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
“For nearly three weeks, first responders in Southwest Florida have been working day and night in the wake of Hurricane Ian to save lives and help their communities. I am glad we were able to bring Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, and Upper Captiva Island first responders their $1,000 bonuses to show our appreciation for their dedication.”
Additionally, nearly 400 checks that were not able to be delivered through mail will be delivered to departments across Southwest Florida in an effort to provide first responders with these bonuses as quickly as possible. Recipients eligible for the First Responder Recognition program include police officers, sheriff’s deputies, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and firefighters employed by local governments throughout the state.
“DEO is proud to support our state’s first responders by administering the Florida Essential First Responder Recognition Payment Program under the leadership of Governor DeSantis,” said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Secretary Dane Eagle.
“Today, it was an honor to present recognition payments to Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, and Upper Captiva Island first responders. These women and men are working day-in-and-day-out to respond to the impacts of Hurricane Ian and help their communities begin to recover, while they are on their own personal road to recovery.”
DEO administers the one-time recognition bonuses of up to $1,000, after taxes, for sworn law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), firefighters, and paramedics employed by a local government as of May 1, 2022. The 2022–2023 General Appropriations Act passed by the Florida Legislature during the 2022 Legislative Session includes $125 million for the Florida Essential First Responders Recognition Program.
Governor DeSantis proposed and the Legislature passed House Bill 3, a sweeping law enforcement recruitment and retention bill, which encourages Floridians to join the law enforcement profession and out of state law enforcement professionals to bring their skills to the Sunshine State.
For more information about the Florida Essential First Responder Recognition Payment Program, visit www.FloridaJobs.org/Recognition-and-Recruitment.
Additional Resources Available for Florida’s First Responders
First Lady Casey DeSantis recently announced $12 million in funding to expand peer-to-peer mental health services available for first responders through the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to bolster existing prevention and intervention services for first responders and their families through the following initiatives:
- The launch of the Hope for Healing initiative and the expansion of the Hope For Healing website to make it easier to access help for mental health and substance abuse.
- Hope Florida – A Pathway to Prosperity which utilizes ‘Care Navigators’ to guide Floridians on an individualized path to prosperity.
- $5 million to provide crisis counseling services through Florida’s network of 2-1-1 crisis helplines.
- Providing $120 million for district Mental Health Assistance programs
- The Launch of SurfsideStrength.com in order to support survivors, families and first responders of the Surfside tragedy to receive much needed emotional support.
Additionally, DCF has launched the First Responder Resiliency resource page, which offers first responders with available mental health resources that they can call or access at any time. The page is also where organizations can access the application to apply for the above-mentioned funding.