SOMETIMES – many times – it is not even during the more serious of emergencies when it arrives.
It can come from mothers and fathers.
And it can involve such viciousness that even the hardy souls of the Northern Control Centre of NSW Ambulance at Charlestown need to take a break.
Threats and abuse towards triple-0 operators has become such an issue, where more than one in every 14 calls has some form of sustained abuse, that a statewide campaign has been launched to educate the community.
On Tuesday, the campaign came to the Charlestown-based operators who take about 120 calls per 10-hour shift.
“It happens more on weekends, that is when it is most noticeable,’’ call taker Jodie Owen said.
“It can be from anywhere, any caller.
“But a lot of them, if they are emotionally abusive, they are the ones who tend to apologise at the end of the call.
“It is the ones that are just downright abusive are the ones that get to you because they personally attack you and get in the way of doing your job correctly and efficiently.
“In this job you have got to be thick skinned so we are all quite tolerant of things, but you do not want to come to work and get yelled at.’’
Workmate Melanie Mayer, who has worked at the call centre for five years, said the abuse was increasing.
“It is not only abuse, it is also disrespect. People just expect everything now,’’ Ms Mayer said.
“I always think that if yelling and swearing at me, and calling me names, got the ambulance to you any quicker then I would be joining in with you.’’
Former police officer Brett Hodgetts said he had always expected to receive abuse as a cop, but not as a trained ambulance officer.
“Obviously when you get abused on the phone you don't mind it if the person is under duress. It is foreign to them, what is happening to them is very confronting especially if it is a loved one or if they are the first person on the scene of what is a serious,’’ Mr Hodgetts said.
“The reality is there is a lot of people out there that are abusing for the sake of abusing.’’