On Thursday October 10th Pitkin County officially elevated the status of 911 Dispatchers to the title of First Reponder. KDNK’s Lucas Turner has more on what that means.
On the national level, dispatchers are classified as Clerical Workers. But since the first 911 call was made almost 50 years ago, the responsibilities of dispatchers has changed.
Nowadays, dispatchers often need to provide life-saving medical instructions over the phone, and talk people down during times of crisis. In the first six months of 2019 alone, Pitkin County Emergency Dispatchers gave medical guidance to over 200 callers. This is why there has been a push on the national level called the 911 Saves Act to change the classification of 911 dispatchers from clerical to protective services, the same classification that first responders have.
Pitkin County 911 Communications Director Brett Loeb says that 911 dispatchers in Colorado already enjoy many of the same benefits as first responders, but the title change is a way to recognize their work. It will also provide access to additional mental health training. Brett says that dispatchers experience many of the same mental health issues as first responders, which is another reason why the status change is important.
This year, six Pitkin County 911 Dispatchers were recognized for their roles in saving the lives of three people who suffered cardiac arrest in the Roaring Fork Valley and coached a mother in labor to a healthy delivery.