Lawmakers reintroduce bill to reclassify 911 dispatchers as first responders
By Sarah Roebuck
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers have reintroduced a bipartisan bill that reclassifies 9-1-1 dispatchers as first responders and recognizes America’s over 100,000 9-1-1 professionals for their work to save lives.
The Supporting Accurate Views of Emergency Services (SAVES) Act was introduced by Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick and Congresswoman Norma Torres on Nov. 8. The bill would give dispatchers legal protections and provide grant and funding opportunities, Fitzpatrick told The Hill.
“When Americans are experiencing the worst, most life-threatening moments of their lives, 9-1-1 dispatchers answer the call – they are true first responders,” said Torres. “My 9-1-1 SAVES Act provides a simple fix to reclassify 9-1-1 professionals as first responders and honor these brave men and women for their work. As a former 9-1-1 dispatcher for over 17 years, I know this small change would mean a great deal to dispatchers and urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us in finally giving 9-1-1 professionals the recognition they earn every day.”
This legislation instructs the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to revise its categorization of public safety telecommunicators (9-1-1 operators), classifying them as a protective service in the Standard Occupational Classification directory.
“Public Safety telecommunicators play a critical role in emergency response as the initial first responder in any crisis situation,” said Fitzpatrick. “The thousands of operators and dispatchers work tirelessly every day to coordinate public safety, police, fire and ambulance units and to keep our communities safe.”
The bill is endorsed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO), Chino Police Department, National Emergency Number Association (NENA), International Association of Fire Fighters, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Crime Prevention Council, Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), Massachusetts Communications Supervisors Association, Tennessee Emergency Number Association and University of Chicago Health Lab: Transform911.
To read the bill, click here.