With the help of Assemblyman Rudy Salas, public safety dispatchers will be reclassified as first responders after Assembly Bill 1945 was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“This is a historic day for the thousands of emergency dispatchers who call California home,” Salas said in a news release from his office. “For years, dispatchers have been misclassified under titles that do not reflect the importance of the life-saving work they perform every day. As wildfires ravage our state, the work of dispatchers coordinating our emergency response has never been more critical. I want to thank the governor for signing this important bill and I hope that other states will join the movement to properly reclassify their dispatchers. Our country depends on the incredible work of our emergency dispatchers who are the first to respond during a crisis and the last voice we hear on the phone.”
The federal government currently describes dispatchers as an “administrative” or “clerical” occupation, the news release stated. Salas’ office said the title doesn’t accurately describe their work, as many dispatchers undergo extensive training while their work can be the difference between life or death.
AB 1945 was originally brought to Salas by a local dispatcher from Kings County, the news release stated.
Lee Ann Magoski, an emergency nurse practitioner and president of the National Emergency Number Association, said dispatchers across the state are “thrilled” about the new law, which was signed Friday. She thanked Salas and echoed his sentiment calling for other states to follow California’s lead on the reclassification.
“For too long, the women and men of 9-1-1 have gone unrecognized as the first of the first responders, answering the call for help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Magoski said in the release.
The release said that California dispatchers answer approximately 27 million 9-1-1 calls per year. It pointed out that public safety dispatchers play a vital role in the state’s emergency response chain, and are responsible for being first on to respond during life-threatening accidents, wildfires, active shooter situations and potential suicides.