Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Norma Torres (35th District of California)
February 13, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (CA-35) today joined 9-1-1 dispatchers from across the country at the National Emergency Number Association’s (NENA) annual advocacy day in Washington, DC.
Rep. Torres, who worked as a 9-1-1 dispatcher for 17.5 years, is the only former dispatcher in Congress and the lead sponsor of the 9-1-1 SAVES Act. The legislation would change the federal classification of 9-1-1 dispatchers from “Office and Administrative Support” to “Protective Service Occupation,” a reclassification that would cost nothing but more accurately reflect the nature of their work.
“Every time a 9-1-1 dispatcher answers the phone, they are thrust into a potentially life-or-death situation, and the outcome depends on what they say and do,” Rep. Torres said. “The stress and emotional impact of the job lead to extremely high levels of attrition, and PTSD rates up to 24 percent. Despite this fact, the federal government classifies 9-1-1 dispatchers as ‘Office and Administrative Support Occupations’ – a classification that reflects none of the sacrifices they make, nor the lifesaving role they play. I introduced the 911 SAVES act to remedy this situation, and reclassify dispatchers with their fellow protective services. Doing so would not cost the federal government a dime, and would give this vital occupation the dignity and respect it deserves.
“I want to thank all of the incredible public servants that make up NENA’s membership for their hard work keeping communities across the country safe every day,” Rep. Torres continued. “It’s beyond time for the 9-1-1 SAVES Act to have a hearing in Congress, and NENA’s efforts to raise awareness are crucial to making that happen.”
Congresswoman Torres also published an op-ed today about the pressures dispatchers face at work.