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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

999

I read with interest yesterday's BBC News article concerning the 999 Police operator who, for reasons best known to himself, felt it reasonable to ignore calls from vulnerable people, placing them at significant risk. Now I don't know what was going on inside that bewildered mind, although I cannot help suspect that there are mental health issues at play. That Officer does what I do; deals with the public, handling a wide range of emergency and general calls. It's high pressure stuff, with often hundreds of interactions on any given day. Whilst perfection is out of the question we do have a duty of care that this guy has singularly failed to carry out. Thankfully he has been removed from his post.
So the next question then; Who employed him? Who was monitoring? Didn't he have a team leader dip checking the quality of his work? And how the heck does that level of incompetence go under the radar?
The risk in these situations is to fail to look beyond the offence itself. I'd suggest a wider net needs to be cast. The processes need looking at, and  measures taken to ensure people who conduct themselves this way are never employed to carry out the kind of safety critical role emergency responders do.
One caveat, however. Well, actually it's a plea for understanding. On any given week I deal with hundreds of people. I do my best, as do my colleagues, but when the conveyor belt is so incessant it is near impossible to do everything with 100% perfection. Some times we might seem a bit stressed, a bit terse, a bit pre–occupied perhaps. Please don't be too harsh. We are having to provide a service with diminishing resources, which means we're stretched a bit further and a bit more often. I'm not griping about the pressure; If I can't hack it I shouldn't be there. All I'm hinting at is that the next time you speak to one of my colleagues, try to remember that prior to interacting with you they might have dealt with things that most people won't ever have to. Dark stuff, nasty stuff, cruel stuff. And over the course of a shift that may sometimes have an effect.
We're human. We're humans doing our best, often under testing circumstances. 
I'll give you everything I've got, and I genuinely want to help, but at the end of the day there's a person on both ends of the phone, and we're all equally deserving of respect.

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