Anette van Gelderen: one of the faces behind our emergency phone number: A day in the life of an emergency dispatcher

As you know, every second counts in an emergency. At Schiphol too. That’s why we have our own emergency number. Schiphol employees can call this number in the event they see unattended baggage or smell smoke in the terminal, for example. These reports are made directly to our emergency response centre, which means less time is wasted. What happens after a report is made? Anette van Gelderen gives us a glimpse into the day in the life of an emergency dispatcher at Schiphol.

In 2020, Anette transferred from the regional emergency response centre to the one at Schiphol. As an emergency dispatcher, you play a central role in emergency assistance at the airport and you make a major contribution to (fire) safety at Schiphol. Anette recently got a new job – in the same department – as process coordinator. Although she switched jobs, she has not forgotten the hectic pace of work as an emergency dispatcher. Schiphol’s emergency response centre comprises a team of fourteen colleagues. Anette described how close they are: ‘We can tell each other anything.’

Ask, alert, act

As soon as the telephone rings, the emergency dispatchers immediately ask the caller what the situation is. If necessary, they then alert the ambulance or fire brigade and send them to the scene. The calls that come in are very diverse, from a passenger who has become unwell to an employee who is trapped between two baggage carts on the apron. An example that Anette still clearly recalls. ‘These are the reports that stick with you the most, also because we see the camera images in addition to raising the alarm. In the latter case, the employee was seriously injured. That was shocking.’

Respond quickly

No two days are the same, but one thing’s for sure: you need to be able to cope well under pressure. You also need to be a good listener and be able to respond quickly. Sometimes the regional emergency services get involved. Did you know that we have only one ambulance at Schiphol? If there’s a major accident and several ambulances are needed, we ask the local emergency services for assistance.

Anette is one of many colleagues with remarkable stories about their work at the airport. Keep an eye on our social media channels for more blogs about a day in the life of an employee at Schiphol.

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