California Dispatchers Become First Responders Under New Law
SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill 1945 (AB 1945), which recognizes the heroic work of public safety dispatchers by reclassifying them as first responders, was officially signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom after passing the Legislature with unanimous, bipartisan support.
“This is a historic day for the thousands of emergency dispatchers who call California home,” said Assemblymember Salas. “For years, dispatchers have been misclassified under titles that do not reflect the importance of the life-saving work they perform every day. As wildfires ravage our state, the work of dispatchers coordinating our emergency response has never been more critical. I want to thank the Governor for signing this important bill and I hope that other states will join the movement to properly reclassify their dispatchers. Our country depends on the incredible work of our emergency dispatchers who are the first to respond during a crisis and the last voice we hear on the phone.”
The idea for this bill was originally brought to Assemblymember Salas by a local dispatcher from Kings County. Currently, the Federal government describes dispatchers as an “administrative” or “clerical” occupation. This misclassification does not accurately describe the work of dispatchers who undergo extensive training and whose work can mean the difference between life and death.
“On behalf of the California Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association (CALNENA) and over 8,000 9-1-1 emergency dispatchers across the state of California, we are thrilled that AB 1945 has been signed into law,” said Lee Ann Magoski, ENP, President of CALNENA. “For too long, the women and men of 9-1-1 have gone unrecognized as the first of the first responders, answering the call for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We thank Assemblymember Salas for his work on AB 1945, and hope that other states and Congress will follow in California’s footsteps so that dispatchers throughout the country may receive the recognition and care that they deserve.”
California dispatchers answer approximately 27 million 9-1-1 calls per year. Public safety dispatchers play a vital role in the state’s emergency response chain, which extends far beyond dispatching calls for peace officers and firefighters. Dispatchers are often responsible for being the first to respond during life-threatening accidents, wildfires, active shooter situations, and potential suicides.
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.