COPPERAS COVE, TX — On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill recognizing 911 dispatchers as first responders.
House Bill 1090 will go into effect on Sept. 1.
The bill changes the definition of a first responder to include "an emergency responder, operator or emergency services dispatcher, who provides communication support services."
Melissa Pastrano is a dispatcher with the Copperas Cove Police Department. She's been in this role for nearly five years and said it's often a thankless job.
Pastrano usually takes a couple dozen calls each shift. She said the entire call center takes about 100 a day.
Just a few days ago, Pastrano said the phones were ringing nonstop as a tornado touched down on the west side of town.
She's honored to see Gov. Abbott make it a point to give them credit for the work they do to save lives in the community.
"Sometimes we're giving first aid advice and direction on the telephone," Pastrano said. "We might be giving them instructions on how to do CPR or might be telling them to move, to evacuate everybody from a house if it's on fire. Giving them instructions while we're, as quickly as possible, finding what they need and where they need it and sending it to them."