On Wednesday, October 2, East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) Media Officer Charlotte Parker, spent the day in the Health and Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC) in Chelmsford, Essex, shadowing a 999 call handler and tweeting about the calls that came in.
Here’s how the day unfolded and a selection of the tweets…
I arrive at the HEOC and I’m paired with emergency Call Handler George Locke, who has been working at EEAST for just over a year. He’s been working since 7am and the calls have been steadily coming in.
The Trust as a whole receives over 2000 calls a day, with call handlers regularly taking approximately 50 – 60 calls per shift.
The first few calls I hear are for elderly people who have fallen over. There are also a several calls from health care professional.
Our call handler is now responding to a caller whose elderly mother is suffering breathing difficulties and is confused. #EEAST999
Call received regarding an elderly woman who has collapsed. Ambulance arranged to take her to Broomfield #EEAST999
Call from doctor surgery who require a transfer to hospital for a patient, a young boy, who is in respiratory distress. #EEAST999
It’s after lunch when the calls really start to flood in and it’s just after 2.00pm when the most dramatic call of our day comes in. A woman has collapsed and is not breathing. George calmly gives the caller instructions on how to give correct CPR and counts out loud to ensure it is being done at the right pace.
Call has come in regarding someone who has collapsed and is not breathing. George is giving CPR instructions. #EEAST999
George is counting the rhythm of CPR for the caller while emergency help is on the way #EEAST999
An ambulance has now arrived at the scene so George has ended the call. Amazing how calm the call handlers stay in such situations #EEAST999
Later on in the shift we find out that the casualty had a return of spontaneous of circulation, she started breathing again, and later that afternoon was sitting up talking in hospital.
Our cardiac arrest patient from earlier is in hospital, sitting up and talking! News like this is what makes George enjoy his job #EEAST999
The calls come in back to back throughout the afternoon.
Call from a parent who is concerned that their baby has developed a rash and isn’t fully alert #EEAST999
This call is for a person in their 50s suffering severe abdominal pain. George is arranging for clinician to call the caller back #EEAST999
Now receiving a call about a diabetic who has fallen. It is not known how long he has been on the floor. #EEAST999
We speak to two people who are what is known as repeat callers. They regularly ring the ambulance service asking for help, without actually being ill.
The shift ended at 7pm, at which time another team came to take over for the twelve hour night shift.
As with any job, there are highs and lows of being an emergency call handler. George says: “My favourite ever call was the first ever childbirth I talked someone through. That was pretty special. The most difficult types of calls, and the ones everyone dreads, are paediatric cardiac arrests.
“The thing I love about the job is going home knowing that I’ve made a difference. There are not many jobs where you can go home knowing that you’ve helped to save a life.”