ACT News


The man at the end of a life line

The tragedy of a baby's death and the elation of being another's saviour were only a shift apart for new triple-0 call taker Ian Roebuck.

The now qualified ambulance call taker was fully exposed to the pressures of the job as he trained for his certificate III in ambulance communications this year.

Mr Roebuck and two other new call takers received their certificates at a ceremony at the Emergency Services Agency's headquarters this week.

In his first months on the job, Mr Roebuck has delivered two babies over the phone, and fielded half a dozen CPR calls. He's experienced the highs and the lows of fielding emergency calls, taking two calls for babies that had stopped breathing in two night shifts.

The first, a CPR call for a two-month-old baby, ended in tragedy.

''I couldn't believe my next night shift I got another baby not breathing call, which is the call everyone dreads,'' he said.


This time the outcome was different, and Mr Roebuck and his fellow triple-0 staff were able to talk the callers through providing CPR to the 10-day-old baby.

''He survived, he lived, and that was an awesome experience to do that,'' he said.

Mr Roebuck and the two other trainee call takers were put through eight weeks of in-class training, followed by six weeks of mentored work in communications.

The trio spent another six weeks working independently before they were assessed to see if they were up to the job.

All three passed and received the nationally-recognised qualification at a ceremony on Wednesday.

Mr Roebuck left the non-emergency patient transport service to join the communications centre, something he says has been a huge change in intensity.

''I find probably one of the more upsetting things about calls is when the person on the other end of the phone is really upset.

''We've got to keep it at our level and be the calm and soothing influence for the person on the phone,'' he said.

The three call-takers have been training with the ACT Ambulance Service since April.