California Bill Extends First Responder Classification to Dispatchers
Wednesday, September 16, 2020 | Comments

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that classifies 9-1-1 dispatchers as first responders into law.

California Assembly Bill (AB) 1945 defines first responders as “an employee of the state or a local public agency who provides emergency response services, including a peace officer, firefighter, paramedic, emergency medical technician, public-safety dispatcher or public-safety telecommunicator.”

Public-safety telecommunicator classification has been a major issue on the federal stage. In 2017, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) declined to update the classification of 9-1-1 professionals in its standard occupational classification (SOC) system. Public-safety organizations had pushed the OMB to change the classification for telecommunicators from office and administrative support to first responder status.

Many public-safety organizations such as the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) decried the decision and have since been pushing legislators to pass a bill changing the classification. Several federal legislators have introduced bills that would classify dispatchers around the country as first responders, but so far, none of those bills have been passed into law.

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