MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — There’s a movement across the country to recognize 911 dispatchers as first responders, and progress is already being made locally.
This week, both the Mobile County Commission and the City of Mobile recognized the public safety telecommunications officers as first responders.
Those being recognized are dispatchers with the 911 call center, as well as the Mobile police and fire public safety dispatchers.
Every day for the past 12 and a half years, Lin Casoria-Scott has put on her headset trying to help those when they need it most.
“This is the type of job, once you sign in, it starts immediately with a call so there’s no warm-up time,” said Casoria-Scott, who is a team supervisor for the Mobile County Communications District.
They work 12-hour shifts connecting callers with the help they need.
“It can go from a regular traffic accident with no injuries to something that’s very serious like domestic violence, and so those callers may be extremely upset. What we’re trying to do is get a location for where they are and depending on the caller and how upset they may be, that can be a challenge,” said Casoria-Scott.
As it stands now, they’re still classified as clerks on the federal level.
“The way we’ve been recognized puts us in a category that really doesn’t show the expertise and training that our operators go through and everything they need to know to process calls. It’s kind of a specialized type of job that requires a great deal of training,” said Casoria-Scott.
Their supporters, including director of the Mobile County Communications District Charlie McNichol, want to see that changed.
“They’re the first of the first responders, when you dial 911, they put things in motion. Oftentimes, they’re in charge of the scene until the field responders get there,” said McNichol.
“It’s more than a clerk, it’s stressful, they’re helping people when they’re really in need the most,” said McNichol. “Our goal is to get them on that team, get them the recognition that they are the first of the first responders.”
They want to get dispatchers the title of first responder, to reflect what they do for their communities. “We’re here to help and do the best we can for them,” said Casoria-Scott.
Baldwin County also passed a similar resolution recognizing dispatchers as first responders, and it is happening all across the state. There is also a nationwide movement to get them recognized as first responders on the federal level.