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911 dispatchers pleased with law making them ‘first responders’

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 4:17 PM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Hallie Pfendler and Denyse Hastwell are 911 dispatchers in Lewis County. The two work hand in hand to get help to people who need it.

“We’re considered secretaries and we do a lot more than that. We potentially save lives. We do CPR instructions. We get people there that need to be there,” said Hastwell.

That work is now being recognized by Governor Kathy Hochul, who signed legislation earlier this month giving 911 dispatchers the designation of first responders.

“The people that protect you are your firefighters or EMS, but we are watching over them. We are keeping track of them so they keep each other safe, but we keep them safe too,” said Pfendler.

The new law gives dispatchers a chance for more training opportunities as a first responder in communications.

“There are a lot of resources that other centers are using across the country that we don’t have access to due to funding so, hopefully with reclassification, they can introduce those things,” said Pfendler.

Jefferson County Director of Fire and Emergency Management Joe Plummer was a dispatcher over a decade and says the new law gives dispatchers a title they deserve

“Without them, nobody is going to help anybody; they are the ones that are taking the call immediately. They are trying to get control of the caller because you know it is their worst day at that point and time,” he said.

Dispatchers will tell you their job is tough and takes a toll on their everyday lives. This designation gives them a chance to possibly lobby for better pay and more mental health benefits.

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