SB 438 (Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys)  

SB 438 prohibits a public agency from outsourcing its local emergency dispatch services to a private, for-profit entity. Instead, this bill allows a public agency to delegate, assign, or subcontract its 911-call processing or emergency notification duties with respect to dispatching emergency response services to another public agency or only pursuant to a joint powers or cooperative agreement.

SB 438 also clarifies that under the Emergency Medical Services Act, a public safety agency maintains the authority to determine the appropriate deployment of emergency resources within the agency’s jurisdiction in order to provide the highest and best level of emergency response for the community it serves.


Fire department operations are geared to rapid response, whether it is for EMS or fire suppression. When lives are on the line, every second counts and fire departments are in the best position to respond quickly and provide vital services on scene. Bill SB 438 clarifies the authority and autonomy of government to determine the appropriate level of emergency response with itscommunity and explicitly protects a government’s rightand obligation to receive and process emergency calls to ensure effective, efficient and rapid deployment of emergency response apparatus.

SB 438 – Background UPDATED 3.27.19