The 9-1-1 Supporting Accurate Views of Emergency Services Act, or H.B. 1629, was introduced into the House of Representatives on March 7, 2019. Since then, there’s been a lot of information about this legislation floating around, and we want to make sure you understand exactly what this act means for the future of 9-1-1.
The act is sponsored by U.S. Representative and former 9-1-1 dispatcher Norma J. Torres. She and former FBI supervisory agent and federal prosecutor Representative Brian Fitzpatrick have been working together on the bipartisan legislation.
“For more than 17 years, I lived through the challenges and stress 9-1-1 dispatchers experience 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Dispatchers are a critical link in the public safety chain that help firefighters, EMTs, and law enforcement officers do their jobs every day,” said Torres. “I’m proud that the House took this important step forward to give the nation’s 100,000 public safety telecommunicators their due and reclassify them as the protective service occupations that they are.”
Representative Torres recently addressed the floor regarding the act:
What will it change?
Currently, a 9-1-1 telecommunicator is listed as an office and administrative support occupation in regards to the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) catalog, which is developed by the United States Department of Labor. This means they are defined by the same standards as postal service workers, receptionists, secretaries, and other similar occupations. The 9-1-1 SAVES act will reclassify the role of a telecommunicator as a protective service occupation, putting them in the same category as firefighters, police officers, correctional officers, and other public safety professions.
Why does it matter?
A number of federal agencies and organizations rely on the SOC catalog for reporting and statistical purposes. By recategorizing telecommunicators to a classification that better suits the ever day reality of their job, theses agencies will have more accurate information to base decisions off of. This change will also allow telecommunicators to identify as first responders in other federal legislation and equip them to make the argument for similar benefits.
When will it pass?
As of today, the 9-1-1 SAVES Act has passed in the House and is on its way to the Senate. It also has a related bill, S.1015, in the Senate that mirrors the language in H.B. 1629. S.1015 has been introduced but has not as yet been assigned to a committee.
The act has to go through the following steps before it becomes law:
What can you do?
As a 9-1-1 telecommunicator, a member of local law enforcement, a community leader, or even as a citizen and constituent, you have pull over your legislators’ decision making. So make sure your voice is heard.
Since the 9-1-1 SAVES Act is currently in the Senate, you can contact your senators and let them know your support for this legislation here.