Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSPF)- Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL-02), introduced the bipartisan Providing Resources and Occupational Training for Emotional Crisis and Trauma – PROTECT 911 Act – to address important health and wellness issues for our nation’s 9-1-1 call-takers and dispatchers. The introduction of this legislation follows National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, a time to celebrate and thank those who dedicate their lives to serving the public. Congresswoman Norma Torres (D-CA-35) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) are original co-leads.
The PROTECT 911 Act includes several measures to advance health and wellness for 9-1-1 professionals, including:
- Developing best practices to identify, prevent, and treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in public safety telecommunicators;
- Developing resources to help mental health professionals better treat these personnel; and
- Establishing grants for health and wellness programs in emergency communications centers.
“Too often, the mental health and well-being of our 9-1-1 operators and dispatchers is treated as an afterthought, if addressed at all, even as they encounter distressing and desperate situations as a necessary part of their job,” said Rep. Kelly. “Emergency operators often encounter violent, disturbing situations, all while trying to determine how best to help in the situation and communicate vital information to the person on the other end of the line. We need to ensure that the folks taking our most urgent calls are able to take care of themselves. I am proud to lead this bill along with my colleagues, Rep. Fitzpatrick and Rep. Torres, to provide help for these professionals working every day to keep our communities safe.”
“Our 9-1-1 dispatchers and call-takers have stepped up to serve their community, and when we need help, they answer our call and keep us safe in crisis situations,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to support the bipartisan Providing Resources and Occupational Training for Emotional Crisis and Trauma (PROTECT) 911 Act, which calls attention to the mental health needs of our brave 9-1-1 professionals.”
“As a former 911 dispatcher for over 17 years, I know firsthand that the demands of the job are immense and how difficult it is for dispatchers to ask for help,” said Rep. Norma Torres. “Dispatchers help the public in their most vulnerable moments, and the PROTECT 911 Act can do the same for the telecommunicator community. These grant programs for behavioral health and wellness programs will help save lives. I’m proud to partner with Reps. Kelly and Fitzpatrick on this vital piece of legislation.”
“The 9-1-1 call-takers and dispatchers at KanComm and other emergency communications centers perform lifesaving work,” said Tammy Peterson, Director of Kankakee County Emergency Telephone System Board. “The long hours and stress can take a serious toll on their health and wellness. The grant programs and resources created by this legislation will help to ensure our 9-1-1 professionals have what they need to keep protecting our communities.”
“The PROTECT 911 Act is a crucial step toward addressing the reality that those who work in 9-1-1, unfortunately, know all too well: that life under the headset can take a great emotional and psychological toll,” said Brian Fontes, CEO of NENA: The 9-1-1 Association. “We thank Representatives Kelly, Fitzpatrick, and Torres for introducing this legislation; just as 9-1-1 professionals across the country work every day to keep Americans healthy and safe, these members of Congress are working to do the same for our nation’s first responders.”
“Public safety telecommunicators face substantial health and wellness challenges as part of their work. The thoughtful provisions included in this bill will provide much-needed assistance for these heroes. APCO thanks Representatives Kelly and Fitzpatrick for their leadership on this issue and looks forward to growing bipartisan support to see this bill become law,” said APCO President Angela Batey, who serves as the Director of the Office of Professional Standards, Georgia Public Safety Training Center.
This is news from Congresswoman Robin Kelly’s office.