Killer government phone operators have been "counselled"

They should be charged with murder. Not one out of the three bitches behaved responsibly and a young man died as a result. He could have been saved if any of them had taken their lifesaving job seriously. But what can you expect of government bureaucrats? Their wimpy boss even knew what they were like but no action was taken. The kid could have called almost anyone else and got better treatment. Calling the official emergency number was his big mistake. The number 000 is the Australian equivalent of America's 911. There are similar problems with 911 operators in the USA

The last thing David Iredale would have expected when he called triple-0 was sarcasm. But that's what the Sydney schoolboy received during frantic calls for help when he became lost while bushwalking in the Blue Mountains. "OK, so you have just wandered into the middle of nowhere, is that what you're saying?" was one operator's response. "There's no need to yell," was another's.

The officer in charge of the Redfern call centre of the NSW Ambulance Service yesterday admitted there were serious deficiencies in the way the 17-year-old was dealt with when he made five calls to the ambulance service about midday on December 11, 2006. Superintendent Peter Payne told an inquest into David Iredale's death that uncaring, sarcastic and dismissive attitudes among phone operators had been a "disease" within the organisation.

David and two school friends were on the second day of a three-day walk in the Blue Mountains when, severely dehydrated, he became separated from the others.

The court heard a major failure of all calls was that relevant information David provided about his whereabouts was not recorded or passed on to police rescuers. The operators had been "fixated" on asking for a street address because it was in accordance with their training and the steps they were to follow within the computer program. "One particular call, the last call we received from Mr Iredale, the calltaker's demeanour appeared quite uncaring, not responsive to information received and the distress that was evident from the caller," Superintendent Payne said.

"Do you agree that there is no room ever for sarcasm with triple-0 operators?" counsel assisting the inquest, Jeremy Gormly, asked him. "I do," Superintendent Payne replied. He agreed the behaviour of three operators was worthy of an internal investigation and possible action. Two operators had been "counselled" about their behaviour. Superintendent Payne agreed one operator's mind was "not on the job" when she asked David where to send the ambulance after he repeatedly told her he was in the bush.

"I take it the Iredales can rest as easy as they possibly can, given the circumstances, that the NSW Ambulance Service will alter its training problems … in order to more usefully gain information from … people who find themselves in non-urban areas such as David?" counsel for the Iredale family, Michael Fordham, asked. "Yes, we will," Superintendent Payne replied.

The inquest heard that two of the operators were involved in a similar case in November 2007, where they continually asked for a street address of a caller who had had a boating accident [And who was marooned on an island without streets].

Despite this, and changes made days ago to how operators respond to calls from remote areas, the inquest heard there were still no direct guidelines on questions to help locate callers who did not have a street address.


Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

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