The Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office announced today that 911 emergency dispatchers will now be classified as first responders. The new status acknowledges dispatchers in the same way as other first responders like police, fire and emergency medical personnel. Dispatchers will have the opportunity for better pay and mental health benefits that were not available to them before. Until now, dispatcher jobs were considered administrative, not lifesaving.
The sheriff’s office wants to acknowledge the critical work that dispatchers perform 24/7 to protect and save the lives of the public and first responders.
“We’ve always considered our dispatchers as the first, first responders. They are the calm voice in chaos, the guiding light for deputies, and the lifeline that can provide life-saving instructions over the phone,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown. “Without them, our deputies couldn’t do their jobs.”
“The Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners is pleased to support this new classification for 911 emergency dispatchers,” the BOCC said in a joint statement. “Given the vital and stressful work these dedicated professionals do every day, and the critical role they play in responding to life-and-death situations, it’s only fitting that they should have access to similar benefits as other first responders.”
Watch "Answering the call." https://youtu.be/4DysWYnABh4
Arapahoe County is the second county in Colorado after Pitkin County to classify telecommunicators as first responders.
Members of congress introduced the 911 SAVES Act in 2019 which, if passed, would give the nation’s 100,000 public safety communicators more resource and benefits. In September, a new law took effect in Texas that raised the status of dispatchers to first responders, and gave them more benefits and training.
In 2019, dispatchers managed 317,810 calls and 911 texts. In 2018, they managed 323,000 calls. Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers provide service for unincorporated areas of Arapahoe County and Bennett, Bow Mar, Centennial, Cherry Hills Village, Cherry Creek State Park, Columbine Valley, Deer Trail, Foxfield, Sheridan, South Suburban Parks and Recreation District and specialized task forces.