Ingrid van Schalm

Best Practices

By Ingrid van Schalm

EMD Sjef Taabe, Brabant Noord, possesses the confidence, mastery, and tenacity to gain the recognition of peers, managers, the IAED, and the people he assists when they call 112.

“Sjef is first among his peers,” said Brabant Noord Dispatch Center Manager Harm van de Pas, M.D. “He has mastered the skill to challenge his colleagues to improve their skills and at the same being loved for doing so.”

With so much acclaim—on so many sides of the emergency call—it’s little wonder that Dr. van de Pas nominated Taabe for the Euro NAVIGATOR IAED Dispatcher of the Year award at the conference held Sept. 16–18 in Leiden, Netherlands.

Taabe accepted the award in a way demonstrating the very qualities he brings to emergency communications and, also, in typical Dutch style of shying away from public recognition.

“As a calltaker and dispatcher I’m used to working in the background and not in the spotlight,” Taabe said to Ingrid van Schalm, MSO, Meldkamer Noord Nederland (Netherlands), in an interview following the award. “So when I was called to the stage to receive the award, I was a little bit unsure. I also told my colleagues that I wasn’t very happy with them at that moment.”

It didn’t take long for those feelings to dissipate when the people in the 112 call highlighted as part of the presentation joined him on stage.

“I met the two proud, lovely parents and their children, including Esmee, the baby of the delivery,” he said. “It was an amazing feeling to have Esmee in my arms, knowing that a few hundred eyes were watching me. The call still echoes in my ears, and they are big.”

The many compliments and congratulatory words Taabe received in result of the award also intensified his already-deep appreciation of the profession.

“It is very special to have a headset on my head and help callers and patients in a structured way in every known emergency situation,” Taabe said. “I realize even more what a fantastic job I have as a calltaker and a dispatcher—the strength and motivation of my team, and how driven my organization has to be to ensure the ultimate goal of patient safety. So am I proud of this award and what we achieve every day with our team? Of course.”

Taabe is a nurse with many years invested in the Ambulance Control Centre (MKA) prior to the switch to the MPDS. The process and the subsequent improvement in patient care soon turned him into a staunch advocate and vehicle for promoting quality assurance. His quick grasp of protocol and charisma naturally led to the drive to infuse the same enthusiasm into the rest of the team.

And he’s not afraid to use his calls to demonstrate how he could have done better.

“That takes courage,” Dr. van de Pas said. “It requires a great professionalism to do this in the context of all nurse-dispatchers being unsure about a newly introduced system.”

Those outside the control center also feel Taabe’s positive influence.

“He’s truly impressive,” Dr. van de Pas said. “He is able to take a 112 call strictly according to protocol and combine that with a nearly unprecedented empathy that is very much appreciated by callers and their loved ones.”