London Ambulance Service releases 999 call to show shocking abuse of call handlers

7 March 2017

A 999 caller - who made chilling threats to an emergency call handler - has changed the way London Ambulance Service manages abusive calls.

The Service today (Tuesday 7 March) releases a recording of the call which led to all call takers being trained in conflict resolution.

The man – who is calling about a friend - shouts down the phone and swears 30 times during the three minute call.

Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Jon, remains calm and professional throughout saying: “All I’m worried about is the patient so you need to calm down.”

Despite his advice the caller says, “I’ll come to your switchboard and kill you”.

Call handler Jon said: “I didn’t want to listen to this call again, I didn’t want to relive the experience but it is important for people to hear it so they can understand what can happen to us while we are doing our job.”

Jules Lockett, Education and Development Manager, said: “Listening to this call is truly shocking.

“We are used to dealing with people who are distressed and upset or even angry but we should not be subjected to this kind of abuse.

“Our call handlers need to be able to take patient details, so they can get the right help to them as quickly as possible. Abuse like this obstructs our ability to deliver patient care.” 

The Service is now training its 500 control room staff in how to diffuse volatile situations.
Jules said: “No training would calm this caller down who rang back three times and continued to be verbally abusive.

“However, we are now encouraging our control room staff to report abusive calls and get support if they experience this at work. We also encourage them to alert their manager and end the call once we have given pre arrival instructions.


Notes to Editors:
London Ambulance Service receives around 5,000 emergency calls a day into its emergency control rooms.