Editor’s Note: Chrystle Bullock is an NYPD 911 Police Communication Technician and DC 37 Local 1549 AFSCME Delegate
The first voice on the line that you hear when you call in an emergency is the 911 Operator. We tend to be the forgotten voice. We want to be heard and we are seeking official First Responder status.
We are the invisible voice behind the radio of the police in the street. The voice that gets them needed resources when reinforcements when needed. We are the calm when chaos is all that officers are dealing with. When calls go to others who are official First Responders, they must come to us first, and then we screen and dispatch them to the Fire Department or Emergency Medical Technicians. We are the first link in the chain to keep New Yorkers safe.
We may not be in the street making arrests or calming down an out-of-control emotionally disturbed person. We may not be gearing up for the next protest, or out making arrests because of the high rate in criminal activity due to the downturn of the economy. But we are frontline and essential workers.
911 has been there to answer the call from the very beginning of the pandemic. We cannot stay home and work remotely like so many others. Every day we go to work leaving our families to answer the call not knowing when and where we may pick up this Coronavirus and get sick, or worse get our family members sick. We are single moms raising kids and caregivers taking care of elderly parents. We are holding down New York City.
In all my 27 years as a Police Dispatcher never in my wildest imagination would I have ever imagined or fathomed all that has happened the past six months. I worked during the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, the plane crash over the Rockaways and the Blackout of 2003, but this pandemic is beyond imagination. Every call is a coronavirus emergency. Every call, patients are experiencing all the same symptoms. They are sick, deathly sick or unconscious. How, in 2020 America, could this happen?
Through it all, we must work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. Our desks are crowded right next to each other and closer than what is the COVID safety requirement. Our union, however, has made sure that we do have proper PPE equipment, plexiglass, proper ventilation, and daily temperature checks. But this only mitigates the fear and threat of contracting the virus and not stop it.
We hope you will agree that we deserve official First Responder designation. There is legislation at the federal and state levels that if passed would make the status we need to be come official.
Please contact your congressional representative and ask them to support the bill: House Bill- Torres HR-1629, The Saves Act, and Senate Bill- Klobuchar/Burr S-3115, Next Generation 911 Preservation Act. Do the same to your state legislative representatives for bills: Senate- #S.8235 Martinez and Assembly- #A.10293 DeStefano.
Remember that we are there to help you and your family to stay safe. Help us!