Have you ever called 9-1-1?

Chances are you have, as the National Emergency Number Association says California dispatchers answer approximately 27 million 9-1-1 calls per year.

Let that number sink in.

The association says public safety dispatchers play a vital role in the state’s emergency response chain, and are responsible for being first to respond during life-threatening accidents, wildfires, active shooter situations and potential suicides.

In other words, much of the time a dispatcher is your link to getting an officer, deputy, firefighter, paramedic, EMT or other first responder at the door of your home or business, or at any other emergency scene.

And now starting this year, public safety dispatchers in California are considered first responders after Assembly Bill 1945 was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Assemblyman Rudy Salas introduced the legislation after the idea was brought to him by a Kings County dispatcher.

“This is a historic day for the thousands of emergency dispatchers who call California home,” Salas said earlier this year in a news release from his office. “For years, dispatchers have been misclassified under titles that do not reflect the importance of the life-saving work they perform every day."

It's a highly trained person who answers your call, often providing life-saving directions on the phone before others can arrive in person.

The federal government currently describes dispatchers as an “administrative” or “clerical” occupation. Not quite, dispatchers know.

Lee Ann Magoski, an emergency nurse practitioner and president of the National Emergency Number Association, said that “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, seven days a week, 365 days a year"

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