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Public Safety Telecommunicators Classified as First Responders

Public Safety Telecommunicators Classified as First Responders

June 26, 2020

Public Safety Telecommunicators Classified as First Responders 

On June 25, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation that classifies public safety telecommunicators as first responders.  The Iowa House and Senate unanimously passed legislation on June 12 that changed the classification of 911 dispatchers from telecommunicators to public safety telecommunicators in Iowa Code, and also classified them as first responders. 

In Cedar Rapids, the Joint Communications Agency (JCA) dispatches Cedar Rapids police officers, firefighters, and animal control officers.  In 2019, the JCA managed over 140,000 police calls for service, 13,000 fire calls for service, and 5,000 animal control calls for service.  The JCA also managed 70,000 emergency 911 calls and 152,000 non-emergency calls, and made 40,000 outbound calls to provide communications services.  All Cedar Rapids JCA employees, which includes a Communications Manager, Operations Manager, three Shift Leads, and 22 Public Safety Telecommunicators, are certified in Emergency Police, Fire and Medical dispatch through the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch. 


According to Police Chief Wayne Jerman, “Our public safety telecommunicators are the critical first point of contact when there is an emergency or the need for other public safety services.  Trained telecommunicators save lives in our community.  They provide pre-arrival instructions for such emergencies as cardiac arrest, choking, shock, profuse bleeding and respiratory problems. Telecommunicators are also responsible for sending back-up to officers in need of assistance, amongst several functions to support police officers.  They are an integral part of the public safety team in Cedar Rapids.”  

Fire Chief Greg Smith said, “Cedar Rapids public safety telecommunicators have to effectively communicate with callers on their worst day – whether it is a family member that has suffered a medical emergency or traumatic injury to finding flames engulfing their home.  We have professional telecommunicators who evaluate the situation and send the appropriate response required to assist the victims.   Emergency medical dispatching drops the response time to zero minutes – help is not delayed until the first fire engine arrives, but can start immediately once the emergency is known.”  

For more information about the City’s Joint Communications Agency, please visit www.cedar-rapids.org/police.


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