Time for a change: The push to classify 911 operators as first responders

When the unthinkable occurs, 911 operators are the first contact the public has with first responders

First published in The Hill

By Rep. Norma J. Torres (D–Calif.) and Jessica Rosenworcel
The Hill

The men and women who answer 9-1-1 calls are consummate professionals. When the unthinkable occurs, they are the first contact many of us have with first responders. Before a blue and red light flashes, a siren blares, or an ambulance races, they are the individuals organizing emergency response. However, Washington does not treat 9-1-1 operators with the respect they deserve because the Office of Management and Budget classifies them as clerical workers. This is wrong — and it’s time to correct it.

Fifty years ago, the first 9-1-1 call was made in Haleyville, Ala. From there, 9-1-1 service took off across …

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