Meet Jack Keane, a call handler at Avon and Somerset police

PUBLISHED: 10:49 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:49 30 October 2017

Jack Keane working as a call handler. Picture: Eleanor Young

Jack Keane working as a call handler. Picture: Eleanor Young

Archant

Twenty-three-year-old Jack Keane is one of the many members of staff in the call centre who work 10-hour shifts to answer your 999 and 101 calls.

I sat down with Jack on the 999 emergency line where we had a wide range of phone calls, from someone reporting their car had been scratched to a mother who believed her daughter was being groomed.

Jack, who has been working with the police for 18 months, said he had his fair share of ‘horrible calls’.

He said: “One of the worst calls I ever had was when I was a few weeks into solo work.

“I had a phone call from a couple who had found a man who had hanged himself.

“We called it in and got someone on the scene but we were too late. It turns out he was arrested 24 hours beforehand for drink-driving.

“I couldn’t begin to imagine what he must have gone through in those 24 hours.

“It was horrible and I had to take 10 minutes after that – he was my age.”

I had just a taster of what kind of calls 999 received, with our first call coming from a disgruntled driver who had returned to his car to find a scratch mark up the side of it.

Next we had a call from a woman whose partner was ‘kicking off and throwing things against the wall’.

The woman was even more concerned as she had children in the house but we lost connection and there was no number for us to call back on.

I already could sense how much this job could impact the call handler, when you lose the person on the other end of the line and do not know what has happened.

Luckily for us the woman called back five minutes later to inform us the man had left her house.

Jack said: “They always teach you in training to never take the work home with you.

“I have only ever taken two calls home with me and one of them was the suicide case.

“When you have a suicidal person on the line, being professional kind of goes out the window and you come down on a level with them. You have to be a human being instead of a robot getting details and build a rapport with them.

“This job improves you as a person. I went into this job because I wanted to make a difference and help people and I do.”

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