Assemblywoman Sillitti’s Bill to Support Emergency Responders Signed into Law

Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti (D-Port Washington) announced that a bill she co-sponsored to designate emergency responders as “first responders in communications” has been signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul and is now in effect (Ch. 426 of 2021).

“At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, first responders were our communities’ frontline response against this deadly virus,” said Sillitti. “However, the often unsung heroes of this pandemic were the faceless voices who answered the crisis calls: our emergency dispatchers who helped talk us through our darkest times while we waited for help to arrive.These first responders deserve every opportunity to be recognized and provided with the services they need and rightly deserve.”

The bill designates public safety dispatchers, emergency responders, emergency operators, emergency complaint operators and emergency service dispatchers as “first responders in communications.” These dispatchers often receive traumatic calls, take in important information and talk callers through sometimes lifesaving procedures – all while keeping the caller calm – before emergency services arrive. COVID-19 has only increased the stress and trauma experienced by frontline emergency workers, leading to high turnover rates in the industry. This designation demonstrates New York’s respect for these essential workers, while also expanding training opportunities and increasing access to mental health treatment options. Increasing access to mental health and training programs has proven to reduce turnover and ensure these workers are provided with critical resources, noted Sillitti.