This state-of-the-art emergency Contact Centre offers comprehensive global medical assistance service.

More than two million people call the emergency lines managed by ER24 monthly. But what goes into maintaining the expertise behind these Contact Centres?

As Shakira Cassim, Contact Centre Manager: ER24, says, three ER24 core contact centres are in Gauteng.

The 270 staff behind this operation include more than 100 Emergency Resource Officers dedicated to taking calls from the public. These staff are trained in operating and managing the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems.

Sophisticated algorithms guide them in logging the call accurately and efficiently. Emergency Resource Officers gather the core information required, including the name and number of the caller, the physical address of the incident, an alternative number, and details of what is wrong with the patient.

Triage and Clinical Support

"The system then further prompts the agent to ask appropriate questions," Cassim explains. For example, if the patient is suffering a heart attack, the agent will be prompted to ask triage questions that have been customised for the South African context. The call is then referred to the appropriate dispatch team, such as an ambulance, helicopter or air ambulance.

"In addition, registered nurses with a high level of clinical excellence are able to coordinate long-distance transfers, relay the necessary medical information to the patient and offer telephonic counselling,” Cassim says. "They are also able to review helicopter and air ambulance requests before referring them to the medical officer (doctor) on call."

“Clinical coordinators are the people who oversee clinical excellence and the level of training,” Cassim adds. "They are trained to manage the electronic triage system model and to revise it when necessary in line with international best practice."

Interfacility transfer agents handle the logistics of moving patients from one destination to another and deal with medical aid scheme rules and funding. "We also have Support Resource Officers who manage the necessary resources after a case has been logged," Cassim says. "And Global Assist agents are trained to deal with international assistance – which include air ambulance requests."

Quality Control

To complete the complement of resources behind every emergency assistance call, highly-skilled quality control teams apply strict assessment tools. "Contact Centre leadership teams oversee the Contact Centres and have vast experience in managing large environments and specialise in key healthcare and contact centre environments,” Cassim explains.