Communications operators are a vital link between citizens needing urgent assistance and police, fire and medical personnel responding to calls for service. They are required to learn how to ask pertinent questions, give sound advice and process calls relating to a range of offences and incidents.
As a result, they must be attentive listeners, show good judgment and common sense, be critical thinkers and stay calm in a crisis.
Jamaican-born Natalie Silvera belongs to this select customer service group. The dispatcher was recognized with the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Communicator of the Year Award last week.
“Natalie is an outstanding emergency medical dispatcher who exemplifies the qualities that this award was designed to recognize,” said EMS chief, Paul Raftis. “While she has responded to remarkable high-profile calls, most notable about Natalie’s approach to her work is her calm and professional focus on helping every caller seeking help from Toronto EMS.”
A dispatcher for the past six years, Silvera has worked in several roles in the Central Ambulance Communications Centre, including call-taker, dispatcher and senior emergency medical dispatcher.
“She consistently applies her experience and knowledge to assist those calling for help, using the best practices available to her,” said Raftis. “In addition, she consistently demonstrates a high standard of excellence in call-taking and dispatching for her team-mates to model…When a job is done with excellence, it deserves special recognition.”
One of the nominators noted that Silvera is calm, professional, articulate, caring and assertive on every call.
While proudly accepting the honour, Silvera said she was flattered by her work mates’ commendations.
“It’s nice to hear your peers say a lot of good things about you,” she said. “It means a lot coming from the people I work with every day.”
A City of Toronto employee since 1998, Silvera said she was motivated to become a communicator after engaging with Parks, Forestry & Recreation employees who were involved in teaching Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
“I thought it was an interesting job because I have always been in customer service,” she said. “This is one of the highest levels of customer service I can deliver.”
Toronto EMS is Canada’s largest emergency medical service with 108 emergency medical dispatchers responding to nearly 300,000 calls annually for emergency medical care.
Bruce Smith and Captain Brian Gislason were the Toronto Police and Toronto Fire Service Communicators of the Year Award winners respectively.
By RON FANFAIR