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Iowa lawmakers approve classifying dispatchers as first responders

 Lawmakers in the Iowa House and Senate have both passed legislation that would classify dispatchers as first responders.

 Senate File 2373 was passed unanimously in both chambers. Currently, Iowa Code classifies dispatchers as telecommunicators, but the bill would change that title to public safety telecommunicator. Representative Wes Breckenridge — a Democrat from Newton — is a former police officer.

 “We always relied so much on our telecommunicators, they really had our backs,” said Breckenridge.  “They are the one communicating — to the public in one case — how to perform CPR or assist in giving birth or calling backup for officers like myself.  This is just a small thing that we can do to help recognize them for the professional work that they do.”

 Representative Dean Fisher — a Republican from Montour — says the language change would also codify dispatchers as a first responder, as opposed to the clerical role they are currently classified as.


“They’re generally the first person a person in distress has to call,” said Fisher.  “They have to deal with many situations.  They have to significant training in order to do their job.  I think this is a good and just change for them.”


Senator Chris Cournoyer — a Republican from LeClaire — is also a law enforcement officer. She says the change is the least the legislature could do for the men and women who serve as dispatchers and provide a public service.


“As a reserve deputy in the Scott County Sheriff’s Department, I can recall many situations where dispatchers have provided critical and real-time information during an emergency to keep us safe and informed,” said Cournoyer.  “They check on us regularly to make sure that we’re tended to, we’re okay and send help if we don’t respond.” 


The bill now heads to Governor Kim Reynolds to be signed into law.

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