Campaign to stop emergency 999 call handlers facing abuse
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The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust has appealed to the public to Choose Respect when calling 999 after releasing shocking evidence of the some of the abuse that call-handling staff receive in their Emergency Control Rooms.
The audio clip features a member of staff being subjected to a torrent of abuse by a caller who made a series of non-emergency 999 calls.
Deputy Chief Operating Officer for EEAST Gary Morgan said: “Sadly, incidents of staff being sworn at and abused by members of the public are not rare.
“Our call handlers can sometimes experience abusive calls on a near-daily basis.
“As well as being an unpleasant experience, over time this could have an impact on their mental wellbeing.
“No-one deserves abuse just for doing their job, but the work of call handlers is already difficult and often stressful. They are there to find out quickly what kind of incident they are dealing with and get help to people as soon as they can. They really shouldn’t be subjected to these levels of abuse.
“We do understand that when people call us they may be frightened, in shock or otherwise upset, but where staff are subjected to sustained racial, homophobic, sexual or other inappropriate abuse, we seek police prosecutions and will push for appropriate sentences when they reach court.
“In the run-up to Christmas and New Year, where we see both spikes in 999 calls and abuse to our staff, we have a simple message:
Only call 999 if you have a medical emergency – for everything else contact your GP or call 111
If you need to be call 999, please treat our staff with respect while they’re helping you.”