Inspired by the Humans of New York photoblog, we’re showcasing some of the incredible stories and experience of people throughout our organisation.
Aliyah, Emergency Communicator
I am an Emergency Communicator, which means I take 111, *555 and general calls throughout my day. When a member of the public calls Police, I enter the information they provide me with based on the situation they are facing and pass these details through to the Dispatcher for the area.
These calls can range from a pre-schooler calling to tell on his sister for staying up too late to an active shooter in a public area. Every call is different and requires a response catered specifically to the individual situation. Regardless of the situation, all calls are assessed with great care.
Before joining New Zealand Police, I studied psychology and criminology at Victoria University of Wellington and then strangely enough worked as an Orthodontic Assistant for two years.
I always knew I wanted to make my way into Police, so it was perfect when the opportunity to join the Central Emergency Communications Centre popped up.
One of my most memorable calls was from a very upset young boy. Initially, the call was quite stressful, and I found it difficult to determine the nature of the emergency due to how distressed he was.
However, after he took a few deep breaths and had a glass of water he was able to explain that his mum had confiscated his PlayStation for the evening. In his innocent mind, this was the perfect reason for a 111 phone call.
Part of my job is trying to work out from the caller how urgently we are needed. We get calls at both ends of the extreme but I’ve learnt to take all calls for help seriously, even if it turns out to be something minor, like a cat knocking over a rubbish bin when the caller thought it was a burglar.
It can be quite stressful when we are on the call with someone who has heard noises outside in the middle of the night, or they have seen someone run through their yard and it seems ages for an I-car (public safety team marked car) to get there.
It’s quite rewarding though getting a relieved reaction from people when we are able to tell them we’ve caught their burglar or when we’ve been able to find a missing relative or friend.
It’s important to note that calling 111 in an emergency and speaking with a communicator doesn’t slow Police attendance down. Our questions are designed for both public and Police safety and help us coordinate the appropriate response faster.