WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Norma J. Torres (D-CA) reintroduced the 911 SAVES Act, bipartisan legislation to reclassify 911 dispatchers from “Office and Administrative Support Occupations” to “Protective Service Occupations” in the Office of Management and Budget’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) catalog.
The reclassification would cost nothing and more accurately reflect the nature of America’s 100,000 public safety telecommunicators’ work.
The lawmakers released the following statements:
“As a former FBI Agent, I know first-hand the lifesaving services provided by our 9-1-1 operators and dispatchers are vital for the safety of our community,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “When in danger, we call 9-1-1 and depend on the hard-working, dedicated public servants on the other end of the line to ensure we get the help we need. They are the first responders among first responders. I'm proud to join Congressman Torres in working to give our 9-1-1 operators and dispatchers the recognition they rightfully deserve.”
“As someone who answered 911 calls for LAPD for nearly 18 years, I know firsthand that dispatchers are unsung heroes in our emergency response system,” Rep. Torres said. “Lives are at stake with each call they take – it’s beyond time that we recognize the high stakes of the job, and the incredible sacrifices these professionals make to keep the rest of us safe. The current classification as Administrative Support Staff does not reflect the extremely high levels of attrition or the PTSD rates up to nearly 25 percent. The 911 SAVES Act would give dispatchers the recognition they deserve by categorizing the job as a Protective Service Occupation – a change that won’t cost a cent, but would provide validation to the nearly 100,000 professionals across America who answer emergency calls every single day. I thank Rep. Fitzpatrick for continuing to partner with me on this important issue, and I urge our colleagues from both sides of the aisle to join us in finally giving dispatchers the classification that they earn each and every day.”
The 911 SAVES Act is supported by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO), the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
“The work performed by Public Safety Telecommunicators is nothing short of extraordinary, and it is 100% ‘protective,’” APCO Executive Director and CEO, Derek K. Poarch, said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted their dedication and the lifesaving nature of their work. Passage of the 911 SAVES Act will be a much-deserved recognition for these professionals and a win for public safety. APCO applauds Reps. Torres and Fitzpatrick for their continued leadership on this issue.”
“America’s 9-1-1 professionals may be the most important people you will never meet. They are the vital first link in the emergency-response chain,” NENA CEO, Brian Fontes, said. “Passing the 911 SAVES Act would give the estimated 100,000 public safety telecommunicators located in every community across America the respect and support they deserve while improving the government’s data collection and analysis efforts. Combined with the possible enactment of a workable Next Generation 9-1-1 bill, 2021 could mark the dawn of a new era for America’s 9-1-1 systems and the hard-working professionals who lead and staff them.”
“When people dial 911, they get a calm, professional expert to help them through unimaginably stressful situations - from life-threatening emergencies to suicide attempts to active shooters,” AFSCME President Lee A. Saunders said. “Dispatchers are first responders in every way and they should be classified as such.”
Reps. Fitzpatrick and Torres previously introduced the 911 SAVES Act in the 116th Congress.