Patient Conscious But Needs Arousal
Quite a number of the folks at the ER24 Contact Centre have been in the Emergency Management Services game for some time. Every now and then this crusty breed is still reduced to laughter over something that is said or some information that is offered, and so it is, that we decided to make the title of our article the five words above, that were offered to one of our Inter-Facility Consultants by a member of staff from a hospital. To be sure, as good as we are, we are still working on the most appropriate way to deal with this request.
A lot has been happening here at the Contact Centre and while there have been many challenges there have also been many developments as the management team continually work at improving our service offering and the way we do things.
FIFA World Cup
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association World Cup event kept all divisions at ER24 very busy, not excluding the ER24 Contact Centre. We established a FIFA World Cup Desk that was managed 24 hours a day, overseeing any emergency that may have been related to this event.
The consultant that staffed the desk was in constant communication with the National Joint Operations Centre and other emergency coordination centres. The ER24 Contact Centre was able to field a team of standby translators for persons speaking French, German, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese and also had access to the National Disaster Management list of hundreds of more linguists.
The FIFA Desk also coordinated ER24’s involvement in the various events, daily statistics and emergency assistance required by any international visitor. Even visitors who were not in South Africa for the event benefited with accolades for aid being registered by at least one international assistance company.
Contact Centre Developments
In the last quarter we have continued to strengthen the client-centric services that we offer, the more notable developments being: At the “Flight Desk,” which is now the pivotal point of coordination for Discovery Medicopters and all fixed-wing air ambulance requests, our flight desk consultants have all attended the CAT 138 and NCAT courses. The flight desk is now fully staffed between 06:00 and 18:00 each day, with the Shift Supervisor looking after the fixed-wing operations during the night as the Medicopters do not fly between sunset and sunrise.
We have established a Case Management Desk which in the near future will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by either an Advanced Life Support Paramedic or Professional Registered Nurse. The purpose of the Case Management Desk is to oversee the day to day medical operation of the Contact Centre with core focus on level of care assigned to calls, authorization of transfers and medical guidance for any consultant that requires the back up of their expertise.
Another new development at the ER24 Contact Centre is the Nurse Desk, initially developed for the Discovery Smart Health Choices Medical Information Line. The mission of this development is to provide our clients with 24 hour access to a Professional Registered Nurse who, with the aid of a medical information data base, will be able to source and provide good quality medical information.
Despite the high pressure environment some of the ER24 Contact Centre Staff still manage to make the time to give back to their local community, as in the case of Thobile Maoba, one of our Emergency Resource Dispatchers, who is presently studying for her Intermediate Life Support qualification. Thobile lives in Naledi, Soweto and is now known as the community medic. She has been called out to collapses, asthmatics, assault cases and pedestrian accidents – assisting at the scene until the ambulance arrives. Thobile also offers first responder demonstrations at the local community centre, teaching people how to deal with choking, make emergency calls and doing CPR, among other skills, on a regular basis.
A Day In The Life
The ER24 Contact Centre records approximately 50 000 inbound telephone calls a month with a good 10 000 of these being logged as emergency, inter-facility transfer and medical information requests, so as you can imagine working as a consultant in our Contact Centre is a very busy occupation. The staff work 12 hour shifts on a two day, two night and four off rotational basis. There is also a compliment of day shift workers strengthening the centre’s resources during peak periods.
ER24 Contact Centre shift consultants arrive for work at 05:45 am and gather for a pre-shift briefing with their shift supervisor, before proceeding to the Contact Centre for a gradual takeover from the night shift staff ensuring that live operators are available through a seamless process to take any incoming telephone calls. When the consultant sits down at their work station they log on to the Computer Aided Dispatch System ZED and open various support applications. Once this is completed they log on to the AVAYA PABX and start to deal with inbound telephone calls.
The telephone calls that the consultants receive are wide and varied in nature. During the day it is possible to log inter-facility transfer requests which can be split into three general categories, non-urgent, urgent and ICU; then there are emergency calls which might vary from a paper cut with profuse bleeding all the way to Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) in progress. Never mind the countless prank, abuse and misdirected calls. With the average human mind only being able to process a limited number of separate transactions in a working day before becoming exhausted, it takes some stamina and practice for an emergency medical contact centre consultant to work throughout the day maintaining the concentration and empathy levels that are expected of them.
When all is said and done it is a very tired human being who returns to their family in the evening and still has to deal with husbands, wives, children and other social and domestic activities – so I am sure that you will join with us in appreciation of the dedicated people who staff our Contact Centre.
Last but not least…
There is an individual in our Contact Centre, one of the management team who is sometimes known as, “The Bunny Killer,” this may mystify you but read on…
The Quality Assurance Coordinator or the Bunny Killer constantly reviews all compliments, queries and complaints relating to the Contact Centre and the general standard of quality in the management of calls – he is actually a softy but is hugely passionate about proper customer service and when on the odd occasion an event occurs that offends his sense of good customer service he becomes quite animated; so after the nick name ‘bunnies’ was adopted as an unofficial generalization for the Contact Centre consultants – he became known as, “The Bunny Killer.”
In today’s fast paced world and more especially in the Emergency Contact Centre industry attention to detail, quality work and excellent client service are some of the pillars crucial to functionality in mission critical contact centres. Aside from investigation, the Quality Assurance Department constantly reviews consultants’ interactions with clients and emergency resources, scoring them on verbal interaction, attention to detail, time taken to handle each case, professionalism, medical information offered, medical and product understanding and customer relationship management skills. A number of randomly picked cases are reviewed together with monthly voice recordings for each agent and a quality score awarded.
Any problem areas detected are forwarded to the training division and shift supervisors for counselling and further education. The pursuit of quality in any service industry is an ongoing process and ultimately the organization that offers the best quality in its CRM Program will become the leader in its field.
The boys and girls that make up the ER24 Contact Centre team are a dedicated group of individuals performing an intellectually and emotionally taxing task every time they sit down at their desks – their first thought is the well being of people who call on them for help no matter what walk-of-life or place from which they call. We are passionate about patient care, passionate about good client service and while we hope that you never encounter an emergency where you may need our assistance, we know that if you do, you can count on us.