FILE - Person dials 911

A person dials 911 on their cellphone.

(The Center Square) – Emergency dispatchers would be considered first responders under new legislation being considered in Springfield. 

Senate Bill 3127 would amend various laws to include emergency medical dispatchers in reference to first responders, giving them the same recognition as police, firefighters and medics.

“Qualifying them, giving them the recognition as first responders, is pretty important not only for them but it's important for people to understand that they too are first responders and they deserve that recognition,” said the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Moline.

Anderson is one of those first responders. He is a firefighter and paramedic in Moline and knows firsthand the difficult work dispatchers do before his team arrives on scene.

“Dispatchers have to hear those terrible things, and almost worse,” Anderson said. "I think they have to use their imagination to fill in what they can’t see and I think mentally that is probably even worse."

The bill would not only give dispatchers a new title, but also benefits and access to additional training.

The bill passed in the Senate and now heads to the House, where state Rep. Dan Swanson, R-Alpha, will carry the bill in that chamber.

“Dispatchers calm and guide these situations with compassion and competency,” Swanson said. "We owe them our best efforts to recover and continue their empathetic service.”

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.