Two 999 call handlers shortlisted for national award

Date: 13 September 2018

Time: 14:00

Two call handlers who stayed calm and offered vital reassurance during difficult 999 calls have been shortlisted for a national award.


Sam Barber and Sarah French are two of 10 finalists in UK Navigator’s Dispatcher of the Year 2018 awards, which will be presented on Tuesday (18th September). 

Sam, who is based in the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust's Bedford Emergency Operations Centre, was shortlisted for the professionalism and compassion she showed throughout a difficult call, during which she kept a man calm and gave him instructions on performing CPR on his daughter until emergency crews arrived. Although the patient sadly could not be saved, Sam’s team leaders praised the way she handled the situation and nominated her for the award later the same day.

Senior Call Handler Sam, 27 and of Dunstable, said: "I love my job. I’ve always been a caring person and really like the variety which working in the EOC brings and the feeling that you’re really helping people.

 “I had mixed emotions when I found out about the award, as I still feel quite sad about the call. After the call I was given support from my team and had some counselling. Talking about what had happened was really useful and helped me to manage the emotions I was feeling.

 “I always try and stay calm for the caller, offering them reassurance and concentrating on giving them clear instructions about what to do until the crew can get to them. Our role is to be that supportive voice when they are at their most vulnerable.”

Sarah, who works at Chelmsford EOC, was shortlisted after helping a pregnant woman to deliver then resuscitate her own baby. She went on to offer the caller advice to help her stop her own bleeding until the emergency crews arrived and were able to take over.

The 30-year-old, who is a Call Handler Team Leader, said: “The call was quite traumatic as the lady was by herself and for various reasons was reluctant to help herself or the baby, so I had to stay patient and work with her to persuade her to give chest compressions.

“When a baby is born and you can’t hear any noise, your heart almost stops beating. A huge feeling of relief rushed over me as soon as I heard that first cry, as I knew we had got the baby back.

 “The call was probably one of the most unusual I’ve answered during 10 years with the ambulance service. It felt great afterwards and it was really rewarding to know that I had managed to save the baby.”

Gary Morgan, Deputy Director of Service Delivery with responsibility for EOC, added: “We are incredibly proud of Sam and Sarah for reaching the finals of this national competition. They both showed great professionalism during two difficult calls, remaining calm throughout and doing everything they could to offer support and reassurance to the person on the other end of the line. They are a credit to our service.”






  • Summary:

    Two call handlers who stayed calm and offered vital reassurance during difficult 999 calls have been shortlisted for a national award.