Dispatchers are NOT Clerical Workers, Help Us Change That

At Cypress Creek EMS we consider our dispatchers as the first, first responders. They are on the scene first through their telephone line. They are the calm, reassuring voice on one of the worst days of your life. They are qualified to give lifesaving instructions over the phone while an ambulance or fire truck is on the way. The Cypress Creek EMS Communications Center handles 9-1-1 and dispatcher for 15 emergency agencies.

In 2017, our Comm Center was recognized as the Best in Texas due to the tremendous job our dispatchers did during Harvey. Our Comm Center Personnel are certified as EMS and Fire Dispatchers.  Many are EMTs that spend some time in the field through our crossover program.

It might surprise you to learn that the federal government classifies dispatchers as clerical workers. CCEMS supports a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives known as the 911 Saves Act which would reclassify dispatchers as Protective Service Workers…in other words, First Responders.

What follows are the thoughts of CCEMS Communications Director Niky Smith. Please read and then contact your congressional representative. Feel free to share this post with them as well. The bi-partisan bill already has 33 sponsors from both sides of the aisle, but we need your help to get it passed.

Why Dispatchers are First Responders

Niky Smith – Cypress Creek EMS Communications Director

Imagine something awful has happened to you or a loved one, or a complete stranger.  A true emergency.  You’ve just witnessed your wife or husband collapse to the ground.  Your 14-month old baby has fallen into the pool or, a five-car pileup just took place right in front of you.  What is the first step to getting help?  Who can you contact during a such a crisis?  According to the United States Department of Labor, you call a secretary.

Now, we honor, appreciate, and respect Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, but it’s just not the same job.

911 Call Takers and Dispatchers are currently classified as “Office and Administrative Support Occupations” in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) catalog.  The 911 Supporting Accurate Views of Emergency Services (SAVES) Act (H.R. 1629) was introduced by U.S. Representatives Norma J. Torres (CA-35), the only former 9-1-1 dispatcher serving in Congress, and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), a former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent and federal prosecutor in an effort to reclassify them as “Protective Service Occupations”.

Our job as 911 Telecommunicators is 100% protective.  Every single time we answer the call or key up on the radio, our priority is to protect and offer assistance to every responder and every caller.  We can give CPR instructions over the phone, diagnose a potential stroke, give life- saving instructions on how to control severe bleeding or talk a frightened mother through childbirth while the ambulance is on the way.  We can work a “Mayday” on one incident while coordinating multiple resources for an active assailant on another. We are the calm voice on what may be the worst day of your life.

No matter what, protective and life-saving instructions are given over the phone every time someone calls 911 and every time a crew is sent to a scene.

Please show your support for the first, first responders.  Contact your U.S. Congressman and ask them to support the 911 SAVES Act.  Having this reclassification will give the 911 Telecommunicators the dignity and respect that their work deserves.