Habersham County E911 dispatchers now are classified as first responders, thanks to a unanimous vote of the county commission.
In the resolution adopted last week, commissioners noted that:
- 911 telecommunications officers are more than clerical workers,
- 911 telecommunications officers save lives every day by administering lifesaving medical instructions to callers on emergency medical calls,
- 911 telecommunications officers handle stress of life or death matters by making split-second decisions for the betterment of the caller, and
- 911 telecommunications officers are considered essential workers as are law and fire/EMS.
“Information gathered and relayed by telecommunications officers can mean the difference between life and death for callers and field responders, provides an integral basis for an effective public safety response and often can prevent an incident from worsening prior to the arrival of field responders,” the resolution states.
County Manager Phil Sutton said currently, at the federal level, telecommunications officers are classified in the same class as taxicab dispatchers and clerical workers. While there is legislation on the federal level to reclassify the positions as first responders, officials at the state and federal level said the effort should start locally at the county level.
Responding to a question from Commissioner Tim Stamey, Sutton said the county has been cautioned not to use CARES funding from the current COVID-19 pandemic for dispatchers because under federal policy they are not designated public safety employees.
The reclassification to first responders will be recognized in county policy and procedural considerations regarding first responders but will have no impact on the county budget.