EOC blog: Behind the call handlers, a look at the EOC Audit team

by Helen Williams

category: EOC

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Helen EOC Audit

Helen began her ambulance service career as a call handler, a role that most people are familiar with. Now working within the EOC Audit team, Helen's guest blog for EOC Takeover week tells us a bit about this lesser known role as part of the EOC team. 

Hi, I’m Helen and I work as the EOC Audit Lead with the Trust’s EOC Audit Team.

I joined the ambulance service in 2002 as a call handler; I really enjoyed working in the EOC and dealing with all the different types of calls we receive. After two years I moved into the audit team and qualified as an EMD-Q and most recently as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) Mentor. I am now the EOC Audit Lead for the Trust a role that offers me new challenges every day. During my time with the Trust, I have seen different systems, the call handling and auditing roles change and develop. I am grateful that I can use my knowledge and experience to help and support all the staff I work with.  

The EOC Audit team is an essential part of the emergency operations control team. We audit the system that the call handlers use to triage 999 calls and the calls that they take. The International Academy of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) has a quality assurance programme which defines the national performance standards and compliance. This is there to ensure that each caller and patient receives a high standard of care during the call handling process. The audit process is there to support our call handlers.

All our auditors have to be certified and have a target of auditing a percentage of the 999 calls we receive each month.  These call are randomly selected. The audit process involves listening to the recording of the 999 call, then reviewing and documenting it to produce an incident performance report; this is then sent to the call handler. 

Our call handlers work really hard to ensure they deliver good patient care and maintain compliance to the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) standards; this is seen regularly with the high number of audits being ‘compliant’ or ‘high-compliant’.  Which is great to see.

Many of our call handlers have achieved call handling awards and wear their silver and gold pin badges proudly. It is an honour for me to be involved in these awards and to be able to nominate call handlers for the Emergency Medical Dispatcher of the Year award, an award at the Navigator conference where the IAED recognises one call handler as the EMD of the Year and EEAST has had two winners in recent years. It is a really inspiring to be part of this and to be able to celebrate success.

I really enjoy the variety that auditing role gives me - no two calls are the same. We can hear some unusual things, sometimes challenging and sometimes very sad. However, we support all our call handlers and we are able to pass on knowledge and offer guidance through the feedback in audits to help them and the Trust deliver the high standards of patient care. Something we all want to achieve.

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