MISSOURI — A proposed law classifying 911 dispatchers as first responders passes a big hurdle at the Missouri Capitol.

The House has approved House Bill 2381, which would redefine the call-takers role, adding them to the category that covers police, fire fighters, and EMS crews. The status change would offer new health and retirement benefits… As well as ways to deal with the stress of the job.

State Representative Lane Roberts says his time as Joplin’s Police Chief gave him a high level of respect for the job, which he believes deserves extra attention.

“There are some benefits that accrue to people in the state that fit the definition of first responders – and this would allow dispatchers to receive the same kind of benefits, such as mental health assistance and other benefits that are unique to first responders,” said Roberts.

Several states have passed similar laws, reclassifying dispatchers including Kansas, Texas, and Iowa.

The Missouri bill is currently under consideration in the Senate.