Burr, Klobuchar Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Reclassify 9-1-1 Dispatchers

PRESS RELEASE

April 4, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), co-chairs of the Congressional Next Generation 9-1-1 Caucus, introduced the Supporting Accurate Views of Emergency Services Act, or the 9-1-1 SAVES Act, which would update the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) to better reflect the life-saving work 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers perform each day. 

“From dispatching first responders to using advanced technology to retrieve locations, the work 9-1-1 operators do is essential during emergencies,” said Senator Burr.  “As the co-chair of the Congressional Next Generation 9-1-1 Caucus, I’m honored to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleague, Senator Klobuchar, to better recognize the specialized training and critical responsibilities of these professionals. 

“No matter where you are, if you dial 9-1-1, dispatchers are there to connect you to first responders,” said Senator Klobuchar. “This legislation makes important updates to the classification of 9-1-1 dispatchers to better capture the complex and technical nature of their occupations while also providing valuable statistical tools for federal agencies. I’m proud to work with Senator Burr to properly highlight dispatchers’ roles as safety leaders during times of crisis and the work they do to keep our communities safe.”

Jamison Peevyhouse, President of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), said, “We applaud Senators Burr and Klobuchar for introducing the 9-1-1 SAVES Act in the Senate. NENA and its members strongly support classifying 9-1-1 professionals as a ‘Protective Service Occupation,’ because it will better reflect the stressful, highly-skilled work these public servants perform, and because it will help to encourage and facilitate critical research into the mental and physical impacts of 9-1-1 jobs. We urge all senators to support the non-partisan, cost-free measure which would give the more than 100,000 public safety telecommunicators in the United States the respect and support they deserve.”

Derek Poarch, Executive Director and CEO of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO), said, “The work performed by Public Safety Telecommunicators is nothing short of extraordinary, and it is 100% ‘protective.’  Passage of the 9-1-1 SAVES Act will be a win for public safety, and APCO’s going to do everything it can to help make sure that happens.”

Background:

The SOC is a tool used by federal agencies to classify the workforce into useful, occupational categories. Currently, the SOC system categorizes 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers as “Office and Administrative Support Occupations,” which also includes secretaries, office clerks, and taxi cab dispatchers. The 9-1-1 SAVES Act would instead recognize these dispatchers as “Protective Service Occupations,” which includes lifeguards, firefighters, TSA baggage screeners, among others. 

During the 115th Congress, Senators Burr and Klobuchar sent a letter to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs urging the Office of Management and Budget to update this categorization to capture the complex and technical nature of these professionals.

Congresswoman Norma Torres (D-CA) also introduced a companion bill, H.R. 1629, in the House of Representatives.

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