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Meet the woman behind the calm voice on 000 line

CALL OF DUTY: Emergency Medical Dispatcher Vicki Ceola (left) and Rockhampton Operations Centre manager Mindy Thomas.
CALL OF DUTY: Emergency Medical Dispatcher Vicki Ceola (left) and Rockhampton Operations Centre manager Mindy Thomas. Chris Ison Rokcambo

HAVING to call an ambulance for her sick mother, who was suffering from a brain tumour, was one of the hardest times in Vicki Ceola's life.

Even though she doesn't know who that calming voice on the other end of the 000 call was, she said she has never forgotten them.

It's the reason she decided to become an Emergency Medical Dispatcher, stationed at the Rockhampton Operations Centre.

It's also the reason she doesn't mind the fact that she's had to work the past four Christmases - well, not much anyway.

"You feel good helping people who are having the worst day of their life," Vicki said.

Sometimes it's a challenging role trying to calm down people in high-stress situations, but she said just one call where she was able to help save someone's life made up for 50 bad calls.

"Incidents tend to be more serious around Christmas," she said.

"Family is all together, alcohol is involved which can sometimes be bad.

"Then you've got kids on new bikes, with trampolines or skateboards. They get hurt a lot more often.

"A lot of people don't want to go to hospital around Christmas, so they might ignore symptoms or put something off until it becomes something bigger."

When calls come through to 000 there is always an EMD who talks to the caller and asks questions while another person immediately sends the ambulance to the right address.

There are 41 staff members at the Rockhampton Operations Centre, which covers an area south to Bundaberg, north to Bowen and west to the Queensland border.

Rockhampton Operations Centre manager Mindy Thomas said when taking calls it was important to be empathetic without being sympathetic to avoid becoming too affected by the often traumatic situations.

However, they do have psychologists available for EMDs to debrief with when they need to.

"You're dealing with difficult callers in these difficult situations," she said.

KEEPING CALM

  • WHEN it comes to location, it's important to be specific. Mindy once had a caller who only knew they were on the Bruce Hwy, a road about 1700km long.
     
  • To help pinpoint an address it is recommended that people download the app Emergency +, which uses GPS to identify your exact co-ordinates.
     
  • Mindy also said they preferred people with serious issues to call 000 rather than drive to the station, as sometimes no ambulance would be there.

Topics:  ambulance, emergency, phone line, police, rockhampton



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