“I Am a First Responder” Campaign
Two years ago, SEIU Local 668 started the “I Am a First Responder” campaign. The campaign began with outreach to the Local’s 911 shops. Through discussions with members, SEIU 668 began a campaign to address issues that were important to Emergency Dispatchers, such as re-classification, support for duty-related trauma, and worker retention.
Beginning January 27, 2020, Tom Troyan started working as a member organizer for SEIU Local 668. Tom will be meeting with legislators across Pennsylvania to discuss a classification change at the state level, which will have an immediate positive impact on our 911 workers. He will also be lobbying for legislation currently in the PA legislature that will benefit the field of Emergency Services as a whole.
What Reclassification Change is Tom Working on, and Why?
● Across the country, there’s an ongoing movement to acknowledge the hard work of Emergency Dispatchers by classifying them as First Responders.
● Currently, the Federal Office of Budget and Management places Emergency Dispatchers in the same category as librarian assistants, clerical workers, and switchboard operators. The current classification does not accurately represent the life-saving work they do.
● Telecommunicators do much more than answer phone calls. They work quickly to assess a situation, gather needed information, calm a terrified caller, and dispatch help. Emergency Dispatchers walk someone through the steps of first aid over the phone; they are the first ones to speak to a scared victim during times of crisis.
● States and counties across the country have introduced legislation and resolutions to update the classification to ensure Emergency Dispatchers receive the support they need to continue to provide life-saving services to communities.
● H.R. 1015 and S. 1015 are federal bills that will direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to reclassify Emergency Telecommunicators into the Protective Service Occupation.
Other Pennsylvania-Specific Legislative Priorities:
The bill requires the Department of Health to establish a peer-to-peer support program for Emergency Responders. The program will include a treatment plan for recovery and support for 911 workers dealing with mental health symptoms related to trauma and stress.
The DOH would create a toll-free hotline for Emergency Responders to utilize when they need mental health support. The conversations will be confidential, and the caller can remain anonymous. In addition, the DOH will develop stress management training and protocol for employees.
E-mail your legislator to support H.B. 1459 here
This legislation would allow an off-duty Emergency Responder to be eligible for workers’ compensation if they’re injured while providing life-saving services while off the clock.
House Bill 432 would amend the Workers’ Compensation Act to include Emergency Response workers who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of being exposed to trauma on the job. PTSD is not currently recognized under this Act, meaning workers cannot receive worker’s comp if they’re diagnosed with this traumatic disorder.
This bill would establish a first student loan forgiveness program for volunteer First Responders. The criteria to qualify for student loan forgiveness is to be a resident of PA, to an active volunteer First Responder in PA for one year preceding the loan forgiveness application, and to be enrolled as a student in an approved education program. The total amount of loan forgiveness would not exceed $135.00 per credit hour in the approved educational program.
For additional information or to get involved with our I Am a First Responder campaign, please contact Tom Troyan at firstname.lastname@example.org.