Federal bill would reclassify 911 dispatchers as first responders
911 dispatchers can deal with any number of calls from people going through their worst moments. Under the Office of Management and Budget, they're classified as clerical workers. A bill going through the U.S. Congress would re-classify them as first responders.
"We can take the call and have to explain to a mother how to do CPR to her infant son or daughter and then hang up and go right into a possible suicidal caller," Anthony Ramsey, operations manager for the Augusta County ECC.
Ramsey said even though dispatchers are always behind a desk, they could almost be like the first line of defense in an emergency situation, and that can take a toll.
Ramsey said they don't think the title of clerical worker matches their responsibilities.
"We feel that our job description puts us at a higher standard to the type of job that we do," Ramsey said.
Ramsey said changing the classification would help open up more resources to dispatchers.
"If we're all connected and part of one team, by classification, it opens up the same resources to everyone," Ramsey said.
He added even though the dispatchers may not see the whole incident play out, it can still impact them.
"They didn't see exactly what happened, but they were through this call throughout whether it was the phone call, or speaking to the fire and rescue or law enforcement providers by radio or by phone," Ramsey said.
He added they check in with their dispatchers after especially difficult calls, and have internal peer support. However, the bill is still a needed step.
The bill has passed the House of Representatives, but has not bene voted on by the U.S. Senate.