Triple Zero call taker abuse

New campaign launched in NSW to stop Triple Zero call taker abuse

Campaign to reduce Triple Zero call taker abuse launched

It’s a pretty sad day when the NSW Ambulance Service has to run a campaign to try and stop the amount of abuse being directed to the Triple Zero (000) call takers.

But sadly that’s what it’s had to come to with the numbers of abusive callers continuing to rise.

Early this month Commissioner Dominic Morgan launched the “No excuse for Triple Zero (000) Call Taker abuse” campaign.

The campaign was launched across all Social Media channels after call centre staff continue to the routinely abused and threatened by members of the public.

You can read the full release below:

Triple Zero call taker abuse must stop

Triple Zero (000) call takers: there to take your calls, not your abuse

“Stop asking me stupid questions”, “I have a gun and I’ll find you”, “listen here b****”, “just get here now or I’ll f***ing kill you,” “you’re clearly an idiot,” are all things said to NSW Ambulance Triple Zero (000) call takers by people calling for emergency help in the past six months.

Commissioner Dominic Morgan Chief Executive today launched a zero-tolerance crackdown on abuse of Triple Zero (000) call takers, saying Control Centre staff are routinely faced with an unacceptable level of abuse and threatening behaviour from members of the public they are merely trying to help.

Commissioner Morgan, a former NSW Ambulance call taker and dispatcher himself, said many of the calls received by our call takers are abusive in nature and it is time to send a clear message to the public that this behaviour is not only unacceptable, but there is simply no excuse for Triple Zero call taker abuse.

“Our message is clear: offensive language, screaming, swearing, yelling, arguing, name-calling, belittling, threatening, hanging up, being rude, sexually suggestive or uncooperative is abuse.”

“These staff do an extraordinary job under intense and unrelenting pressure.

There is simply no excuse for the abuse they routinely subjected to” he said.

NSW Ambulance measured the abuse in one shift.



The statistics are staggering with 8.32 per cent of Triple Zero (000) calls answered by one call taker in that shift containing a level of verbal abuse.

“Our highly trained call takers answer a call for help on average every 28 seconds.

Just as we don’t tolerate abuse against our frontline paramedics, from today we are sending a strong message that it is unacceptable for threats and abuse to be levelled at our call takers” Mr Morgan said The No Excuse for Triple Zero Call Taker Abuse campaign is a public awareness campaign made up of eight posters and educative collateral which will be rolled out in media and social media channels.

The posters feature NSW Ambulance call takers from all four control centres, who each volunteered to be the face of the campaign to shine a light on the issue and the impact it has on their well-being and resilience long after the call ends.

“While we recognise our call takers are often the first person someone speaks to after being confronted with a tragic, distressing, or emotionally charged situation, we will not tolerate members of the public treating call takers disrespectfully or as verbal punching bags,” Mr Morgan said.

NSW Ambulance Sydney Control call taker Chantelle Connell said verbal abuse or a lack of co-operation can hinder the quick dispatch of paramedics to a patient during an emergency, which can be dangerous in a situation where every second counts.

“We aren’t only trained to answer the phone; we are qualified to help you during your medical emergency in those vital minutes until paramedics arrive.

Staying calm and answering our questions will enable us to get help to you quickly.

Callers should know that no question we ask is unnecessary, but quite often we get abused for asking what they see as being irrelevant“ Ms Connell said.

“In most emergency cases the paramedics have been dispatched as we continue to ask questions and give medical instructions.

Your answers are vital, they help us provide you with immediate life-saving medical advice and we can brief the attending paramedics en-route on updated medical details or help them pinpoint an exact location.”

NSW Ambulance provides a range of support measures to call takers who have been abused including formal debriefings, taking them off call taking duties, providing them with time out and counselling from senior managers, counsellors, peer support officers or Chaplaincy support as needed.

However, with each of these measures involving taking a call taker off roster, it means there is additional pressure on other staff respond to calls in a time of crisis.

“We will always ensure that our call takers are provided with the support they need should they be abused, however, call takers shouldn’t have to be subject to abuse and threatening behaviour as they go about their work,” Commissioner Morgan said.

“NSW Ambulance will continue to stand by our Control Centre staff and pursue abusive callers to the full extent of the law under the Telecommunications Act should they fail to take this very reasonable request on board.”

“We have a zero tolerance, no excuse approach to this issue and are encouraging call takers to report any incidents for further review and assessment” he said.

To see the No Excuse for Triple Zero (000) Call Taker Abuse campaign follow NSW Ambulance on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or visit the NSW Ambulance website.

For those wishing to access more information about what to expect when they dial Triple Zero (000), fact sheets can be accessed online via Calling an Ambulance fact sheet

Want to learn more about how the Triple Zero call centre works?

Listen to our Podcast below:

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