The Reclassification of 911 Call Takers as First Responders Part 1 of 3: A Step Towards Better Mental Health Resources and Retention

Posted in All, NGA911 on Apr 07, 2023

9-1-1 call takers are not perceived as first responders at the federal level. Despite their vital role in emergency situations, they are classified in the same category as office clerks and administrative assistants. 

Now, these essential emergency telecommunicators are finally being recognized as first responders in some states. This is a huge development in the public safety industry and has the potential to bring significant positive changes for our country’s emergency response professionals. 

In this post, our NGA team will kick off National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week by exploring how the reclassification of some 9-1-1 call takers as first responders can provide better mental health resources and help reduce retention in the profession.

Table of Contents:

  1. What Are 9-1-1 Call Takers Exactly?

  2. Why is The Recognition of 9-1-1 Call Takers So Important?

  3. How The Reclassification of 9-1-1 Call Takers to First Responders can Provide Better Mental Health Resources and Retention

  4. Improved Mental Health Resources

  5. Reduced Retention

  6. Improved Collaboration within the Public Safety Industry

  7. Increased Public Awareness

  8. Conclusion 

People Also Ask:

What do you call a person that takes 911 calls?

The individuals taking 9-1-1 calls are known as 9-1-1 call takers, emergency dispatchers, or public safety telecommunicators. These professionals receive calls from individuals who need emergency response assistance in times of emergency. 

Who are the dispatchers on 911?

9-1-1 dispatchers, or public safety telecommunicators, track and monitor the status of fire, police, and ambulance units. These emergency response professionals also answer emergency and nonemergency calls and provide emergency resources to individuals in need. 

What Are 911 Call Takers Exactly?

9-1-1 call takers, otherwise known as 9-1-1 dispatchers, are the backbone of our national emergency response system. They are the skilled men and women responsible for swiftly answering our 9-1-1 distress calls and providing critical help in times of crisis. 

They're trained professionals who collect information from distressed individuals and dispatch appropriate emergency resources. With their calm demeanor and effective communication skills, these dedicated people work around the clock, ensuring that help is always available whenever needed.

Why is The Recognition of 911 Call Takers So Important?

9-1-1 Call Takers are integral to public safety, and their role deserves recognition for their vital service. Celebrating these heroes helps ensure they have the necessary motivation and support to continue helping us daily.

This recognition would also helps foster meaningful connections between 9-1-1 call takers, other public safety industry professionals, and the individuals they serve. Recognizing their efforts and commitment show that what they do is valued and appreciated by all and could even help encourage others to begin their journey down this noble career path.

How The Reclassification of 911 Call Takers to First Responders can Provide Better Mental Health Resources and Retention

It's an undisputed fact that emergency services personnel provide a vital service to our society. As such, it is only fitting that they receive the recognition and resources they need to be able to deal effectively with the unique pressures of their work. 

Let's look at how the recent reclassification of some 9-1-1 call takers to first responders can help with mental health, retention, and other factors in the public safety industry. 

Improved Mental Health Resources

The recognition of 9-1-1 call takers as first responders can open up access to mental health resources for these professionals. 9-1-1 call takers are frequently exposed to traumatic and stressful events when they respond to emergencies. 

Unfortunately, due to the classification of their role in the past, they did not receive the same access to resources as other first responders. This recent recognition by some states classifies them under the same umbrella as police officers, firefighters, and EMS, which means access to the same mental health resources. 

By providing them with easier access to mental health resources, they can develop sustainable strategies to deal with the stress and trauma of the job.

Reduced Retention

High burnout and low retention rates have been rampant in the 9-1-1 profession in the past. However, recognizing 9-1-1 call takers as first responders could significantly impact redefining their role, showcasing the importance of their work, and improving their morale. 

The reclassification validates their position, giving them a sense of ownership, pride, and a sense of purpose while on the job, contributing positively to their profession's longevity. 

Improved Collaboration within the Public Safety Industry

Recognition of 9-1-1 call takers as first responders can open the doors to improved collaboration and enhanced coordination across emergency response teams. This cooperation can lead to better communication channels, resulting in improved response times and more efficient deployment of resources. 

With enhanced collaboration and better communication, the public safety industry can harness the collective strength of all first responders to ensure better service delivery in emergencies.

Increased Public Awareness

Recognizing 9-1-1 call takers as first responders can also help raise public awareness about their role. With this recognition, the public will become aware of the essential services that 9-1-1 call takers offer and foster a deeper appreciation for their work. 

This recognition also puts in perspective the toll the job takes on a 9-1-1 call taker's well-being, prompting action to support these professionals mentally and emotionally.


The recent reclassification of 9-1-1 call takers by some states to first responders is a win-win for the general public and professionals in the public safety industry. It's high time these 9-1-1 telecommunicators are acknowledged for their critical role in the emergency response system nationally.

This classification decision by some states can provide many positive outcomes, such as better access to mental health resources, reduced burnout and turnover, improved collaboration, and stronger public awareness. 

This reclassification will go a long way in enhancing the public safety industry, making it more resilient, and ensuring better protection for all.

How can you help? 

Please ask both of your U.S Senators as well as your U.S Representative to support the 9-1-1 SAVES ACT!

Would you like to learn more?

Connect with our NGA team today to get started