Thirty-seven states enacted 84 bills in 2021, excluding appropriation bills, to support and improve the operation of public emergency communications services. New laws mainly concern 911 funding; training telecommunicators in telephone cardiopulmonary resuscitation, known as T-CPR; and new mental health crisis hotlines.
Four states—Arkansas, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Texas—enacted training requirements for 911 telecommunicators to learn T-CPR, allowing them to deliver CPR instructions to callers. The four bills were introduced as out-of-hospital cardiac arrest incidents increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. T-CPR is an effort to encourage the use of CPR before the arrival of emergency medical services, which can give someone experiencing cardiac arrest a two-to three-fold higher likelihood of survival.
Two states—Mississippi and Montana—created or increased fees related to 911 services. Mississippi increased its fees for residential and commercial telephone subscribers and established a separate fee for wireless service that will be used to pay for E911 operations. The Montana Legislature passed a bill requiring sellers of prepaid wireless services to collect a new 2% fee on all 911 transactions.
Five states—Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska and Oregon—passed legislation relating to mental health crisis hotlines. All the enacted bills aim to redirect individuals experiencing mental health crises to a crisis team or health provider specifically equipped to deal with mental health or behavioral problems. Oregon, for example, passed legislation to expand statewide mobile crisis intervention programs that coordinate emergency medical services, crisis response and follow-up services to callers from multiple hotlines using technology such as texting to provide a more efficient response.