|Posted:||November 5, 2021 09:25 AM|
|From:||Representative Jim Rigby|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||State Death Benefit for County 911 Dispatchers|
|In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to extend the Commonwealth’s death benefit currently available to emergency responders to telecommunicators.
The Emergency and Law Enforcement Death Benefits Act provides a state benefit of $100,000 (annually adjusted using the Consumer Price Index; currently $158,559.75) to emergency responders for deaths related to the performance of their duties.
A telecommunicator is a person employed as an emergency communications worker or a public safety dispatcher whose primary duties are receiving, processing and transmitting public safety information received through a public safety answering for the initial reporting of police, fire, medical or other emergency situation. Basically, the legislation will provide the death benefit to our county 911 call-takers and dispatchers.
In 2019, this General Assembly passed Act 69, which created the Mental and Stress Management Program for Pennsylvania’s first responders. In that legislation, we included county 911 call-takers and dispatchers realizing that these individuals are often part of the horrors that most of us cannot even begin to imagine. Studies have shown that these first responders experience higher rates of depression, alcohol abuse, sleep disturbances, anxiety disorders and suicidal thoughts.
Every day 911 call-takers and dispatchers deal with high stress levels in addition to dealing with what may be a caller’s worse day of their life; many days doing so several times a-day and for long hours due to overtime stresses. These unforeseen frontline heroes assist 911 callers with emergencies including helping someone to administered CPR, stop the bleeding from a gunshot or stab wound or delivering babies.
Because these emergency responders can live with post-traumatic stress and deal with high stressful situations during emergency events, it is only fitting that we recognize this as we did with Act 69 of 2019 and add them to our state’s emergency responder death benefit.
Please consider joining me in sponsoring this important and timely legislation.
Introduced as HB2262