New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill Saturday that would give 911 responders and dispatchers ‘first responder’ status, opening up a pathway for them to receive federal grants and benefits.
Mrs. Hochul, who took office last month upon the resignation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, signed the legislation to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
The bill would make it easier for all first responders who participated in the recovery efforts at the World Trade Center to retrieve all the benefits available to them, her office said.
“These laws will help not only first responders who were at the World Trade Center on that terrible day and those who cleaned the site for weeks afterward, but also the emergency dispatchers and communications personnel who keep us safe today,” Mrs. Hochul said in a statement. “We will ensure they receive the support and benefits they deserve.”
The bill signals a victory for emergency dispatcher unions, which have long lobbied for their profession to be designated as a “first responder” position.
The proposal was introduced by state Sen. John Brooks and state Assemblyman Peter Abbate in June, and later passed both legislative chambers by unanimous votes.
“New York’s emergency operators and dispatchers provide invaluable services to us all,” Mr. Brooks said in a statement. “It is long past time we remove existing roadblocks that prevent these essential emergency workers from providing the full range of support they can give and denying them of benefits they deserve.”
Earlier on Saturday, Mrs. Hochul joined several current and former officeholders for the annual remembrance ceremony held at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan.
President Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, and former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were also in attendance, as well as New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg.
A total of 2,977 people were killed in the attacks two decades ago.