WASHINGTON – Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Burr (R-NC), co-chairs of the Congressional Next Generation 9-1-1 Caucus, introduced the Supporting Accurate Views of Emergency Services Act, or the 9-1-1 SAVES Act, which would update the classification of 9-1-1 dispatchers from clerical workers to protective service workers in the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) to better reflect the life-saving work they perform each day.
“No matter where you are, if you dial 9-1-1, dispatchers are there to connect you to first responders,” Klobuchar said. “This legislation makes important updates to the classification of 9-1-1 dispatchers to better capture the complex and technical nature of their occupations while also providing valuable statistical tools for federal agencies. I’m proud to work with Senator Burr to properly highlight dispatchers’ roles as safety leaders during times of crisis and the work they do to keep our communities safe.”
“From dispatching first responders to using advanced technology to retrieve locations, the work 9-1-1 operators do is essential during emergencies,” Burr said. “As the co-chair of the Congressional Next Generation 9-1-1 Caucus, I’m honored to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleague, Senator Klobuchar, to better recognize the specialized training and critical responsibilities of these professionals.”
"We applaud Senators Burr and Klobuchar for introducing the 9-1-1 SAVES Act in the Senate. NENA and its members strongly support classifying 9-1-1 professionals as a ‘Protective Service Occupation,’ because it will better reflect the stressful, highly-skilled work these public servants perform, and because it will help to encourage and facilitate critical research into the mental and physical impacts of 9-1-1 jobs. We urge all senators to support the non-partisan, cost-free measure which would give the more than 100,000 public safety telecommunicators in the United States the respect and support they deserve,” said Jamison Peevyhouse, President of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).
“The work performed by Public Safety Telecommunicators is nothing short of extraordinary, and it is 100% ‘protective.’ Passage of the 9-1-1 SAVES Act will be a win for public safety, and APCO’s going to do everything it can to help make sure that happens,” said Derek Poarch, Executive Director and CEO of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).
The SOC is a tool used by federal agencies to classify the workforce into useful, occupational categories. Currently, the SOC system categorizes 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers as “Office and Administrative Support Occupations,” which also includes secretaries, office clerks, and taxi cab dispatchers. The 9-1-1 SAVES Act would instead recognize these dispatchers as “Protective Service Occupations,” which includes lifeguards, firefighters, TSA baggage screeners, among others.
During the 115th Congress, Klobuchar and Burr sent a letter to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs urging the Office of Management and Budget to update this categorization to capture the complex and technical nature of these professionals.
Congresswoman Norma Torres (D-CA) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) also introduced a companion bill, H.R. 1629, in the House of Representatives.
As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Klobuchar has been a leader in pushing to expand and improve emergency communications infrastructure. Klobuchar joined former Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) to introduce the Next-Generation 9-1-1 Act of 2017 to boost federal support for a rapid and effective transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 across the country.
In 2018, Kari’s Law, bipartisan legislation to make contacting emergency personnel simpler and easier, led by Klobuchar and Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), was signed into law. In 2013, Kari Rene Hunt of Marshall, Texas, was murdered by her estranged husband in a hotel room. When Kari’s 9-year-old daughter tried to dial 9-1-1 for help, she could not reach emergency personnel because she did not dial “9” to reach an outside line. Kari’s Law requires the manufacturers of multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) to create systems that allow callers to reach 9-1-1 without dialing a prefix or postfix. The law requires on-site notification to make it easier for first responders to locate 9-1-1 callers in large buildings. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), John Cornyn (R-TX), John Thune (R-SD), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were original cosponsors of the legislation.