From a passenger who has fainted to an issue with an incoming aircraft: as emergency call operator at Schiphol, Gian Battista Marci always keeps a cool head. “It often comes down to those crucial seconds in which you need to act.”
What does working as an emergency call operator involve?
“I coordinate the emergency services, such as the ambulance and fire service. We also need to keep our professional competencies up-to-date, especially when it comes to emergency-response skills. It's very varied work and I can really make a difference for people. We have to act on every telephone call we receive. It may be about a gas smell somewhere or some unaccompanied baggage. You can’t put it off till later, because the people calling need your help. You need to have excellent knowledge of the area and be familiar with everywhere at Schiphol, so you can send the emergency services there.”
So, how do you acquire all that knowledge?
“Emergency call operators undergo rigorous training lasting 4 to 6 months. You learn about all the systems that we use to coordinate the emergency services. You spend a day shadowing the fire service and ambulance and also visit the Noord-Holland control room in Haarlem. We also take regular drives and walks around Schiphol. The airport is continually changing and a wall is added or removed somewhere on a daily basis.”
What type of phone calls do you receive and what action do you take?
“A passenger might faint, for example. We ask several basic questions, such as whether the passenger is still conscious. We use that to decide whether an ambulance is needed. Some people immediately start telling us what happened before we’ve asked anything. In that case, we try to reassure them and still ask the basic questions, to enable us to take rapid action. We receive reports of fire alarms on a daily basis. These often involve minor incidents, such as work on electronic control cabinets where smoke is released. We receive reports of ‘aircraft emergencies’ on the ‘red line’. This is a separate phone line used for serious reports involving aircraft, for example if they’re arriving back and have a problem.”
Do you also receive bizarre or crazy reports?
“The reports that are impossible to do anything about, but require action are those involving people who are lost and confused. There are several people like that walking around Schiphol and other people ring us about them. In that case, we enlist the services of the chaplaincy or Social Works. They’re often well known to the Marechaussee. It’s our job to coordinate the response with the various parties.”
What do you enjoy about the work?
“Every day’s different. It may sound like a cliché, but you never know what to expect. You ask the same questions, but people often respond differently. I’m also part of a great team – we learn from each other and there’s a real team spirit. There has to be, because you often have to act at speed in a short space of time and that’s bound to be stressful. It often comes down to those crucial seconds in which you need to act. If there’s been an emergency, we have team evaluations and always watch out for each other.”
You’re part of the Spot community?
“I signed up to it when I was still working as a planner at KLM. I really enjoyed my first Christmas breakfast with the community. You get to see all kinds of people who work at other companies. That way, you’re not just reliant on your own company, but realise how many different companies actually work at Schiphol.”
Do you have anything else you’d like to share?
“In emergencies, many Schiphol-based companies call 112 instead of our number, 020-6012222. This can result in wasted time, because most of the time the 112 calls for Schiphol are redirected to us anyway. I compiled a questionnaire that we send to all staff to raise awareness about the emergency call centre. It also includes questions about the service we offer, with a view to improving our work.”
Link to the questionnaire: https://forms.office.com/r/ry2MKXFTw6
- 020-6012222 - for emergencies.
- 020-6012422 - if the call is not urgent, but requires specialist knowledge from Schiphol.
Who: Gian Battista Marci (32)
What: emergency call operator, Day2Day Operations Schiphol.
Emergency call centre: based in Terminal 3, with 18 staff.
Time working at Schiphol: Four years, two at the emergency call centre and two at Randstad. “And I have no plans to leave Schiphol any time soon”, smiles Gian.
Number of calls received per shift: 5 to 10 emergency calls.
Proud of: the fact that Schiphol has its own emergency call centre, with all its expertise and knowledge. Gian: “We’re here for the whole of Schiphol and that’s something we can be proud of.”