Just before Christmas 2017 the NSW Ambulance Service announced that our members who answer 000 emergency calls will move to Auto Answering, meaning that emergency calls will just drop into their headsets with very little notice that the call has dropped in, and as soon as one call is finished another emergency call will drop into their headset.
The Service Introduced this new procedure without any consultation with its staff or the Union claiming it was just a minor change to the way our members do their work!!!!
Let’s address a couple of things here!
When your job is to answer emergency calls all day using the telephone, and the manner in which you do this has, for years, been a tried and tested successful procedure, any change to this procedure is and always will be a significant change and not minor as the Service claims.
Our members previously had the ability to automatically seek debriefing after a horrific call, or they needed to catch-up with file notes for a call, or they needed to call back to a caller who hung up during an emergency call. This is now taken away or requires additional concentration, adding additional stress to an already very stressful job.
Our members were very angry with their employer.
The Service has made our members’ job even more stressful than it was. This is unacceptable.
Equipment that doesn’t work
Imagine if you will having emergency calls drop into your headset where you have distraught people on the other end of the phone, and the computer programs and systems do not work or do what is expected to of them!!! How stressful would that be?
The Union and members in all of the control rooms have continually raised with the Service concerns that the equipment and programs being used, do not work or continually fail.
Imagine this; A 000 emergency call drops into your headset, you have a person on the end of the phone in a very emotional state wanting an ambulance to their house as quickly as possible, what is supposed to happen on the computer in front of the call taker is a screen should appear as the call drops in that gives the call taker the address and the name of the person making the call, this screen doesn’t appear for a couple of seconds, so the call taker has no way to immediately check the name and address, so while the person is hysterically giving the call taker the details of what has happened and their address details, the call taker is waiting for the computer to put the screen up so they can check and enter the details, in the meantime, no ambulance can be dispatched!!!!
How stressful would this be? and the Ambulance Service, thought it would be a good idea to go to Auto Answering without fixing this problem! On top of this, call takers have a system that records the call as it comes in, they rely on this recording to ensure and check that the information they have received has been accurately typed into the system so the Ambulance will arrive at the right address and they will accurately know what the problem is. Well this doesn’t always work either, when call takers replay the recording, there are gaps, the recording has missed information, or it skips over vital information, making our members’ job even more stressful.
You would think that the Service would have ensured these well-known faults were fixed BEFORE introducing Auto Answering.
Not the New South Wales Ambulance Service!
They are more interested in trying to hoodwink the public into believing that they are supplying a good service because they can answer the a call within 1 second, what the public is not being told is the risks they are taking with the public by not fixing the problems with their systems and the increasing stress our members are under working with faulty and old systems.
The Union is doing all it can to support our members and has this matter in the NSW Industrial Relation Commission as a dispute.