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A new Missouri law giving dispatchers 'first responder' status could help drive recruitment

A police cruiser is seen with red lights glowing as it drives down a street at night. There are a few cars on the street, and their tail lights can be seen.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
911 dispatchers are now designated as first responders under Missouri Senate Bill 24.

Missouri joined a handful of states labeling emergency dispatchers as "first responders." Along with the new label comes advanced access to mental health resources and the formal naming of PTSD as an occupational hazard for the profession.

Senate Bill 24 was recently signed into law, designating Missouri's 911 dispatchers as first responders. Previously categorized as clerical workers, these dispatchers now have increased access to vital mental health resources.

Zachary Dykes, president of the Missouri chapter of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, hopes that this new designation could help with hiring as the Kansas City area grapples with a shortage of emergency dispatchers.

"I think it could potentially lead to an increase in recruitment and retention just from a job satisfaction, feeling like you belong as part of the team and then seeing this as a career," Dykes said.

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Trevor Grandin is a contributing producer for KCUR Studios.
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