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19th Oct, 2021

Ambulance call assessors speak out about shocking abuse they receive from 999 callers

THE VOICES behind 999 calls in the West Midlands have spoken out about the shocking verbal abuse they receive – including threats of rape and assault, racial abuse, and being called a murderer.

Call assessors for West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) have been sharing examples of the abuse they have experienced while trying to do their job.

One said: “The caller started giving me abuse and said he’d make my Dad watch him sexually assault me.”

Another said: “I’ve been told that if I don’t help, I’ll be a murderer.”

Other examples include callers telling assessors that it would be their fault if a patient dies, threats of physical assault to assessors and their families, and sexually explicit calls.

WMAS’ Integrated Emergency and Urgent Care Director Jeremy Brown has worked for the service for 30 years, both on the frontline as a paramedic and in control, and knows all too well the abuse staff can face at times.

He said: “Call assessors are the first voice you hear when you call 999 for an ambulance. They are there to do the very best by each and every patient. Being abusive, difficult and offensive to them is not going to help a patient and does have an impact on call assessors personally.

“When people call 999 for help, call assessors often talk to people at their most vulnerable and often at a person’s low point in their lives.

“Having taken 999 calls myself, I know how difficult a job it can be at times. As a call assessor you’re trained to diffuse situations and calm down callers so that we can get the vital information we need to arrange the best help quickly. It’s understandable when callers are fraught and frightened but it’s not an excuse to be abusive. Swearing, screaming, threats of violence and racial abuse are all too common and it’s not acceptable and not okay.

“Call assessors routinely accept that this level of abuse is part of the job and hardly report abusive calls, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t affected by the level of abuse they receive.

“If you ever need to call 999 or 111, all I ask is that you are courteous and treat my staff with respect.”

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