PSHS Bureau: Labor Statistics Bureau Has Misclassified 911 Dispatchers

January 19, 2017–The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has told the Standard Occupational Classification Policy Committee of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that its initial findings that public safety telecommunicators, or 911 dispatchers, should be classified as office and administrative support occupations “appear to reflect an incomplete and inaccurate understanding of the work performed by today’s public safety telecommunicators.”

In a letter dated Dec. 6 and released today, PSHS Bureau Chief David Simpson said, “As you enter the next phase of the decision-making process, we urge you to carefully consider the comments that have been submitted in response to the SOCPC’s initial findings by public safety organizations and individual telecommunicators.  Among other things, these comments document that in the current 911 system, public safety telecommunicators: (1) under established protocols and procedures, provide assistance, guidance, and life-saving advice to 911 callers in many emergency situations; (2) are involved in the planning, coordination, and direction of response activities both before and after emergency personnel are dispatched to the scene; (3) receive specialized and rigorous training in emergency response and crisis management skills; and (4) operate within organizations and under chain-of-command structures that group them with other public safety professionals, including police, fire, and emergency medical personnel.”

Mr. Simpson added, “We also believe that your classification analysis should be informed by the impact that the transition to Next Generation 911 (NG9 11) is already having and will continue to have on the work performed by public safety telecommunicators. Throughout the next decade, the Nation’s PSAPs will be at the center of this transition as they migrate from legacy circuit-switched telephone technology to Internet Protocol (IP) based networks that will support not only 911 voice communications but also text, data, and video, data analytics, GIS mapping, and targeted alerting. Even in the early stages of this transition, the shift in technology is leading to an evolution in the role of public safety telecommunicator, which increasingly encompasses not only call-taking and dispatch, but also the integration and analysis of multiple sources of information to determine the appropriate response to any given emergency.”

The National Emergency Number Association has argued that public safety telecommunicators should be reclassified as protective service occupations (TRDaily, Sept. 21, 2016). —Lynn Stanton, lynn.stanton@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily