Assemblyman calls for 911 operators to be considered first responders
There's a new push to provide additional benefits to the state's 911 operators and emergency dispatchers.
911 operators are the first ones to get the call for help and usually stay on the line until police, firefighters or EMS workers arrive on the scene. Currently, in New York state civilian 911 operators and dispatchers are not classified as first responders.
In Suffolk, that includes 230 telecommunications workers in the police, fire rescue and emergency services and the sheriffs department.
Assemblyman Joe DeStefano wants that changed. He's introduced a bill that he says will get the dispatchers additional resources. There's also a matching bill in the state Senate.
"There's no reason they can't be considered first responders and get recognized as first responders," says DeStefano.
Daniel Levler, president of the Suffolk Association of Municipal Employees, says the bill would allow for certain funds to opened up so that if a federal ruling is made to provide first responders with aid then the dispatchers would be included.
Levler says the bill would also allow the union to advocate for the dispatchers to receive things such as better training and dealing with PTSD from doing the job.
Operators say it's something they need, especially in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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