News : 999 Call Handler Tells of Suffering ‘Unthinkable' Abuse from Public
Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, March 7, 2016 -- A 999 call handler has revealed that he has to deal with "unthinkable" abuse as part of his day job.
Bradley Murray, 22, who has been working as a call handler for the North East Ambulance Service for three years, said he is regularly targeted by drunk callers spouting obscenities.
His comments follow new figures that reveal three-fifths (59.9%) of ambulance technicians and nearly three in 10 (28.9%) paramedics had been physically assaulted in 2015.
Mr Murray said: "I regularly have to deal with abuse over the phone. I’ve heard obscenities I had never heard before and have been threatened in unthinkable ways.
"I’ve learnt to take these threats with a pinch of salt as the majority of abuse comes from intoxicated people.
"I like to think that if they were sober they’d be mortified if they knew what they’d said to someone who had tried to help them. Still, it’s not something we should have to deal with."
Despite the abuse he suffers, Mr Murray insisted he has no plans to quit.
"I love my job. It’s complex and sometimes seems thankless but there is no better feeling than going home at the end of the day knowing you may have helped save someone’s life," he said.
"All I wish is that people thought before they dial 999, didn’t take the service for granted and appreciated the help they receive.
"I can honestly say being an emergency call operator is the most rewarding job I have ever had."
Alan Gallagher, head of risk and claims at the North East Ambulance Service, said: "For our staff, this is more than a job. They dedicate themselves to saving and protecting the lives of people in our community and it is totally unacceptable that they experience any kind of abuse whilst at work.
"Despite this, our staff out on the road and in our Contact Centre, regularly have to suffer verbal and physical abuse.
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"We do not tolerate any form of violence or aggression against our staff."
Mr Gallagher revealed there is a counselling service available to staff who have to deal with abusive calls and threats.
He added: "We continue to work with our partners, such as the police and courts, to prevent incidents and to support staff through the process where they do happen.
"We are currently reviewing the overall impact of workplace violence and aggression with a view to reducing the level of incidents and improving support for staff.
"All staff also have access to a counselling service and a number of helplines to ensure their mental health is looked after as much as possible."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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