Should 911 Operators Be Classified as First Responders?
When we think of first responders, we usually think of police, firefighters, and EMTs. Should 911 operators be added to that list?
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel thinks so. Earlier this week, she wrote a letter to the Director of the federal government's Office of Management and Budget, asking for 911 operators, or the more official-sounding title of "Public Safety Telecommunicators", to be reclassified as first responders at the federal level. Currently, they fall under "Office and Administrative Support". Which, if you sit and think about it, is technically accurate, but it definitely isn't the full picture.
In the letter, Rosenworcel points out the role 911 operators play right now and their growing responsibilities.
She also points out that multiple states have changed their definitions of "first responder" to include 911 operators. According to a map supplied by the National Emergency Number Association, or NENA, only 19 states have done this, and Montana is not one of them.
Personally, I was surprised. I thought 911 operators were already considered first responders, so finding out that's not the case was a shock. After all, in many cases, isn't 911 the first phone number called in an emergency, making them the 'first' first responders?
So why aren't they? Perhaps because their work is largely behind the scenes, so it often gets overlooked in favor of the people dispatched by 911 operators?
So, what's your take? Should 911 Operators be considered first responders, just like the responders they dispatch? If so, should it be recognized at the state and/or federal level?