#999Day: real life stories from Greater Manchester Police Call Handlers
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Today is 999 Day, an annual event that celebrates emergency service workers. Throughout the day, Greater Manchester Police is sharing stories from its call handlers.
These are ordinary people who have taken on an extraordinary role in answering emergency calls. To them providing life changing and life saving advice is all #inadayswork.
“A woman rang me and I could hear a baby screaming in the background. The baby had accidentally knocked a cup of boiling water onto itself and the mother hysterical. I struggled to get an address out of her but it was so important to get this information as I couldn’t help her without it. I ended up having to speak to her 6-year-old son and do everything through him.
“He was distraught and blaming himself – saying it was his fault for leaving the cup so close to the edge of the table. I told him to tell his mum to put the baby under the shower in cold water. I had to calm the boy down as well and in the end I had him standing by the door and I told him to look for blue lights and the officers.
“He kept asking me if they were coming to take him away because it was his fault. I reassured him that no it’s not your fault and of course they’re not taking you away. I started talking to him about other things to keep him calm while help arrived - I remember asking him what his favourite game is on his Xbox and things like that. It’s obviously a terrible situation but I’m glad I could help the family through something like that and reassure him when he was so frightened.”
“A male came through on the line and there was loads and loads of background noise – a lot of hustling and rustling and people shouting and screaming. And basically, he just said straight away that this girl had been stabbed.
“I went to get one of my colleagues to ring the ambulance and confirmed that she had multiple stab wounds and was losing consciousness.
“There was a lot of people coming on and off the call so you kind of have to be stern and tell someone just stay on the line with me, speak to me directly and get everyone else out the room. There were kids there as well, so I told them to get them out of there and for someone to stay in a different room with the kids.
“The caller than said the woman had lost consciousness and she’d stopped breathing. So it had gone from put pressure on the wound to you’re going to have to start CPR. I started to initiate CPR with him and talked him through it.
“It was horrific. He was obviously really distressed and praying on the line saying please God don’t let this happen.
“At the same time, my colleague was on the line with the ambulance; so he was telling me what the ambulance wanted me to do and I’m trying to tell him what the ambulance want him to do.
“I ended up on the phone for about half an hour I think and he’s still doing CPR. It was one of them jobs where there’s so much going on but everyone in the room behind you just stops. Your supervisor comes over to make sure that you’re OK and you’re doing what you can, and that the ambulance are passing over what they need to.
“I remember hearing the officers come in and then it’s just them clearing the line on me and thanking me.
“In jobs like that you do get taken by your supervisor to have a chat and make sure you’re OK. And you do get 10 minutes or so to get yourself together and things like that.
“It was a tough one – we did everything we could. But that’s definitely the biggest job that I’ve ever done.”
“This was shortly after I was out of mentoring – maybe a month out of mentoring. I took a call from a guy who was so drunk and he rang up threatening to kill himself. He was at his lowest point and he was near the M61.
“And he said to me just talk to me – so I did. We must have been on the phone for about an hour. He still wouldn’t give me his location. He said he couldn’t see something specific.
“I obviously put the job through on a grade 1 but no officers could find him because we didn’t have a specific location. I had to create the log on the whole of the M61 and officers had to go to search the whole area.
“His phone died during conversation and then for a full 20 minutes I was on the edge of my seat like come on please tell me he is OK. I had to go on a break and I was still thinking about it all through my break.
“It turns out as soon as the phone call died he made his way to safety. He then saw the police and waved them down and told them that it was him.”
“A young boy rang up who was only 20 and he was suicidal. He’d ran away from home; his family didn’t know where he was and he was in a forest in Wigan. It’s really quite a rural area.
“He rang up, he was distressed on the phone, and he really needed calming down. He’d harmed himself. I stayed on the phone with him, reassured him and tried to build a rapport.
“Then we spent some time trying to figure out where he was. I asked him what he could see and we used the what3words app; we finally got officers out to him and that saved his life.
“Shortly after he did lose consciousness and we had to get to him really quick to save his life. So we did in the end when officers found him. That does stick with me.”
“It was about 3am and I had a call from an old man who was very distressed. He told me that he was locked inside a school, and I started talking to him to try and understand what had happened. It became apparent that he was just very confused and was actually still in his home, which he was imagining to be a school.
“I started asking him what he could see, and he started naming things like a lamp and his bed. I asked him if it was possible, he was in his bedroom, but he kept insisting he was locked in a school.
“I ended up spending around 40 minutes on the phone with him just to reassure him until the officers arrived at his address. They showed up and got him the help he needed so that was really nice to hear.
“We’ll often get calls like that from elderly people who are confused or frightened and want some reassurance. Another elderly lady rang once to say she thought there was someone in her house. She’d been burgled previously and was so scared of it happening again. I got some officers to go round and just check her house was secure to reassure her so she could get some sleep.”