TEXAS – Groundbreaking news comes out of Texas this weekend as authorities announced that 911 dispatchers will be officially recognized as first responders.
The new change in the system will give more recognition and better benefits to dispatchers. This subject has been debated for years, usually separating typical emergency crews from the heroes that work back at home base.
People usually recognize police, firefighters and EMS workers as emergency responders. But dispatchers say that they deal with a lot of the emotional impacts that stem from being involved in high-stress crisis situations.
And so, Texas will soon fully recognize these men and women in emergency telecommunications as first responders, giving them equal treatment and access to benefits as their cohorts.
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The new law was signed into effect by Governor Greg Abbott this week. Fox 4 KC outlined how the new changes affect dispatchers.
‘The change will not only give dispatchers a degree of recognition alongside police, fire and emergency medical services, but will also let them access benefits to help support their mental health, according to Amarillo Fire Department Capt. Jeremy Hill, who manages the Amarillo Emergency Communications Center,’ the station reported.
“There’s stuff that you hear, stuff you see and do out on the streets, where you have to get mental help,” he told KFDA. “That stuff happens inside here also.”
Just because they don’t necessarily see the results of the call doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by the horrors that they deal with every day.
“I can’t think of a more emotional response that I’ve seen than a mother calling and saying her baby is not breathing and having to calm that mother down and give CPR instructions,” said Hill.
An Amarillo dispatcher said the new law will be “very beneficial” in the way he and his fellow coworkers handle some of the traumatic experiences that they go through.
“We take the brunt of the initial call that gets in,” dispatcher Mario Lomana said. “So being able to reach out to somebody in need for some of the calls that have an emotional toll on us is very beneficial. That will improve morale here for sure.”
The law is set to go into effect on September 1.
What a huge win for our brothers and sisters. Though they may not be on the streets, dispatchers undoubtedly handle some of the worst parts of the job. The pain of the victim on the other end of the phone. The panicked voice of a child who’s in danger. The cries of someone dying. The helpless witness. These sounds and situations are often unforgettable. They follow you home. They occupy your dreams. They continue to haunt for years.
Now, they will finally get the true recognition that they deserve and the mental health benefits that they need. But let’s not just stop with Texas. Let’s make this nationwide. Let’s truly take care of the ones who take care of everyone else.