A 111 call for an ambulance comes into an ambulance communication centre. St John owns and runs the ambulance communication centres in Auckland and Christchurch and is in a joint venture in the third communication centre in Wellington, with Wellington Free Ambulance. The centres are colloquially known as NorthComm, CentralComm and SouthComm. These centres take calls and dispatch ambulances - for all of New Zealand.
They are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The ambulance communication centres are absolutely crucial to the St John Ambulance Service. They are the link between those who need emergency medical help and those who can provide it.
Two roles of equal importance
There are two main roles at the ambulance communication centres – emergency medical call takers and emergency medical dispatchers. They are the unsung heroes of emergency medical services, but they’re not in it for the glory. Ambulance communication centre people are resilient, focused, effective, unflappable and humble. They save lives and minimise suffering every day.
What does a call taker do?
Ambulance communication centre call takers are the voice at the end of the phone when you have called 111 and asked for “ambulance”. They work through a specific order of questions to find out where you are, what has happened, and what you’re experiencing - all the while keeping you calm and capturing vital information.
What does a dispatcher do?
It’s the dispatcher’s job to orchestrate and monitor the emergency medical response. This involves dispatching ambulances and other vehicles, tracking ambulance positions, liaising with other emergency services (Fire, Police), maintaining contact with all units on assignment and monitoring progress of the response. They operate a variety of communications equipment to do this, including radio consoles, telephones and computer systems. Dispatchers are the ultimate multi-taskers – they need to be able to do many things at once.
What makes a great ambulance communication centre team member?
People arrive at an ambulance communication centre from a variety of professions. Sometimes they come from other emergency response organisations, such as the Fire Service and Police; sometimes they come from a background of customer service or call centre work; and sometimes they’re health professionals who want to follow a new career path. Whatever their background, they all share these characteristics:
- Can manage situations and resolve conflicts to achieve positive outcomes
- High levels of self-belief and integrity
- A high level of resilience
- Effective peer relationship skills (team players)
- Excellent customer service skills
- First aid certificate (minimum)
- Excellent keyboard skills – minimum of 40 words a minute
- Familiar with Windows computing environment
- Excellent communication and problem solving skills
- Technical learning ability
- Compassion, patience and great listening skills
- A sense of humour
There is an Assessment Centre style of recruitment process that involves various assessments being done, interviews, testing and observation shifts within the ambulance communication centres before employment decisions are made.
Contact us for information
If you want to talk to our recruitment team about ambulance communications centre careers, call 0800 ST JOHN (0800 785 646) and ask to speak to a member of our recruitment team.
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