As the community began to deck the halls, NSW Ambulance was experiencing a significant increase in Triple Zero (000) calls due to the usual festive season demand combined with a surge in Omicron cases.
Luckily, a group of 24 call taker trainees had just finished their induction education and were set to complete the rest of their training at control centres across the state.
Warren Phillips and Belle Henshaw, who were the key Communication Educators for the call taker trainees who were placed at Sydney Control, said they were set to provide some much-needed support to their fellow heroes in headsets.
“I think that Sydney Control are grateful to have this high calibre of people coming in to complete their training,” Warren said.
“We feel very confident that they’ve been prepared well and that they’ll do well in the centre,” Belle agreed.
Belle said they were a “lovely cohesive group” who excelled throughout the course, which covered a lot it just five weeks.
“The course covers everything from working with vulnerable people, diversity in the workplace and our CORE values, to the practical aspect of learning how to take calls, teaching them how to geo-locate, triage calls using the software, and appropriate work instructions, procedures and processes,” she said.
Warren said it was hard to really prepare students for just how much the course covers.
“It’s a massive, very intensive course and they often come in cold, nothing can really prepare you for it,” Warren said.
“But what that means is they learn more in a short period of time than any other group. It’s a great achievement.”
Both Communications Educators agreed that there were certain personal attributes that determined who would make successful call takers.
“People who can multitask, who have life experience, resilience, good problem solving skills, and the ability to think outside the box,” Belle said.
“You also need to have an innate ability to picture what’s happening on the other end of the phone, good attention to detail and great listening skills.”
Sameli Siulepa, the call taker trainee who spoke on behalf of the group during their virtual shield presentation, agreed that this attention to detail was key to the role.
“I think the most important lesson I leaned was realizing the bigger picture of things,” Sam said.
“It’s not like you call Triple Zero (000) and BAM, an ambulance is going to be there. As call takers, we have to make sure we get the right details from the start – we have pay attention to detail.
“In this job, if you make a simple mistake it can be life or death. Attention to detail saves lives.”
For Sam, it was this crucial sense of wanting to contribute to the greater good which inspired him to join the service.
“To be honest, I’ve done a lot of jobs in the past but the one thing I was lacking was a job with a purpose,” Sam said.
“It’s about knowing that by me going to work, someone might get to see their family another day. It’s about saving lives.”
Belle said it was a special moment for both the call taker trainees and educators to hear Sam speak during their shield presentation.
“Sam’s speech was magnificent,” Belle said.
“It was a beautiful surprise to hear how lovely he spoke about the educators, the training, and how he related everything back to our rondel and what it means to wear it.”
Reflecting on the past five weeks, Warren said the group will never forget the time they just shared with each other.
“I hope they keep supporting each other as much as they have throughout their training. I also hope they also know they can contact us and get information or guidance at any time. We have their back and will support them throughout their journey,” he said.
Belle agreed, and offered some final words of wisdom for the group.
“Seek as much guidance as you can from your peers and seek support when you need it,” she said.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t be worried if some calls do effect you – it’s okay to be human and keep your emotions while doing this job.”