Home Adaptation Change the Job Descriptions and Salaries of 911 Operators
Change the Job Descriptions and Salaries of 911 Operators

Change the Job Descriptions and Salaries of 911 Operators


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

The issue of salaries for emergency medical services dispatchers is not new. More importantly, this topic has been continuously debated over the last few decades.

Despite what might seem to be a rather easy fix (i.e. just raise salaries), determining proper compensation for dispatchers is complex because there are numerous influential factors from communities around the United States.

Volunteerism in emergency medical services is certainly part of the problem, despite the need for first responder services across American communities. But other issues such as training, supply and demand also greatly affect the salary equation for dispatchers.

Authors Suggest 911 Operators Should Be Reclassified as First Responders

Recently, The Hill published an article arguing for the reclassification of 911 operators as first responders. The authors, Representative Norma J. Torres (D-CA) and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, raise important points about public safety in the country. One of those points is that since the first 911 call was made public safety has changed dramatically.

Torres and Rosenworcel also argue that changing the overall classification of 911 operators would have an enormous impact on first responders. But would that help to change the salaries associated with public safety?

Lack of Understanding Hampers Salary Determination for 911 Operators

Unfortunately, there is a lack of understanding of what 911 professionals do, which contributes to the salary problem. Many Americans don't have a solid understanding of what this line of work entails.

The idea that 911 operators are classified as clerical positions only contributes to this problem. As Torres and Rosenworcel state, 911 operators have a very difficult job as they’re part of the equation for handling 911 emergencies. The clerical work description of their jobs simply does not emphasize all that they do or the training required to do the job.

Changing the Situation for 911 Operators

Ultimately, the situation surrounding public safety needs to change considerably. The Hill article certainly highlights areas that need to change for the general public to better support first responders.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.