November 29, 2022

California Recognizes Public Safety Dispatchers as First Responders

From the office of California Assemblymember Rudy Salas:

Today, Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) joined a group of public safety dispatchers from across the state for a press conference to celebrate Assembly Bill 1945 (AB 1945), which would recognize the brave work of public safety dispatchers by classifying them as first responders. Currently, the Federal government describes dispatchers as an “administrative” occupation. This classification does not accurately describe the work of dispatchers who undergo extensive training and whose work can mean the difference between life and death. The idea for this bill was brought to Assemblymember Salas by a local dispatcher from Kings County, Maribel Stinson, who emailed him directly suggesting the potential legislation.

“It is an honor to officially recognize the incredible work of our public safety dispatchers,” said Assemblymember Salas. “Dispatchers are vital to keeping our communities safe. When a hostage taker or a suicidal person calls 9-1-1, the first individual they speak with is often a dispatcher whose negotiation skills can save lives. I want to thank Ms. Stinson for contacting me with this idea. Her life-saving in the community was the start of AB 1945, which ensure that brave women and men who are working as dispatchers are properly acknowledged for their work.”

Public safety dispatchers or public safety telecommunicators play a vital role in emergency response. They routinely communicate with individuals in great distress, harm, fear, or injury, including during active shooter situations. Dispatchers are trained to coach callers through first aid, collect vital information for officers, and negotiate in a variety of hostile situations.

“I congratulate Assemblymember Rudy Salas for his introduction of important legislation that would rightfully designate 9-1-1 dispatchers as first responders,” said Brian Fontes, CEO of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA). “For too long, federal and state agencies have categorized the work of 9-1-1 professionals as administrative or clerical in nature, which is inaccurate and a disservice to the specialized, lifesaving work done by dispatchers every day.”

Assemblymember Salas was joined at today’s press conference by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez, a principal coauthor of the bill and former EMT, as well as dispatchers from the Central Valley, Monterey County, the Bay Area, Sacramento, and Sonoma County. In addition, Allena Wiggins, President of the Northern California Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (NAPCO) and Lee Ann Magoski, President of the California National Emergency Number Association (CALNENA), attended in support of AB 1945.

There are currently over 6,000 dispatchers employed in California who responded to over 27 million 9-1-1 calls in 2018 alone. Additionally, these dispatchers responded to 28,014 emergency text messages which is up 10,000 from 2017.

More EmComm Brief News

Related Stories:

CAREN Act to Address Racist 9-1-1 Calls

Related articles

Organizations seek solution for non-English Text-to-911

With the ability to text emergency messages to 9-1-1 being deployed across the nation, the need for a translation solution for non-English Text-to-911 calls for service has been identified as a critical need to help 9-1-1 Telecommunicators. Census data reveals that 61 million people nationwide speak a language other than English at home. Once a […]

Georgia Recognizes Dispatchers as First Responders

On January 14, 2020, Georgia recognizes dispatchers in groundbreaking legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly. The Georgia House of Representatives passed House Resolution 885, which recognizes 911 and public safety telecommunicators as first responders in Georgia. The Resolution identifies the critical roles performed, the stressful situations experienced and specialized equipment utilized by emergency communications […]