Irish EMD Receives Outstanding Service Award

Becca Barrus

Becca Barrus

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Caitlin Mullan has been an Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) since August 2018, but even before she donned the uniform of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) Health and Social Care Trust, she wanted to help people. It was this impulse that led her to take first aid courses taught by a man so inspiring and enthusiastic that when a job opening with the NIAS came up, she couldn’t say “yes” fast enough.

“Before you work in the emergency services, you expect everyone calling 999 to have a life-threatening emergency,” Mullan said. “It’s usually a bit more trivial than that.”

Life-threatening emergency or not, Mullan treats everyone who calls for help with the same level of respect and empathy. She knows there’s more to helping a caller than saving their life and that exceptional customer service is giving every person the same standard of care whether they’re calling about a stubbed toe or cardiac arrest.

Mullan was recognized for her incredible work ethic at the Ambulance Leadership Forum Awards Dinner on Sept. 6, 2022, where she was given the Outstanding Service Award 2022 in the category of “Exceptional EOC/Control Services Member.”

The call that was submitted with Mullan’s nomination for the award was one from a woman who was concerned about her dad’s health. He’d received his COVID-19 vaccination a few days prior and had been doing poorly since. In the beginning of the call, although the patient wasn’t awake, he was breathing. As it progressed, the daughter let Mullan know that he wasn’t breathing anymore. Mullan took that change of status in stride, shifting into CPR instructions without letting the caller know just how much more dangerous the situation had become.

“We were impressed with Caitlin’s confidence in using the protocol like that,” Hannah Maxwell, NIAS continuous development manager, said. “Listening to it, you wouldn’t have even known the case had a huge change in severity when he stopped breathing. It’s that work ethic, that customer service, that care, she brings to all her calls and patients. What more could you want from an EMD, really?”

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) clearly agreed and presented the award to Mullan at the Ambulance Leadership Forum Awards Dinner. Also present at the ceremony were Michael Bloomfield, NIAS Chief Executive, and Jerry Overton, President of the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® (IAED). This year, the leadership forum was held at the Jury’s Inn, Hinckley Island, England, and it typically involves all trusts in the United Kingdom with the addition of the HSE National Ambulance Service (Ireland).

Having served several roles in the NIAS, Maxwell has watched the growth of Mullan and the group of EMDs she was hired with from the beginning. She said Mullan’s enthusiasm for and understanding of the Protocols really comes through in her calltaking. Not only does she understand what to do, she also knows why she’s doing it.

“She was always a pain with asking questions,” Maxwell joked. “But the other trainers and I didn’t mind because we always saw the answers incorporated in her dispatching.”

According to Maxwell, who started as an EMD in March 2015, the NIAS are quite keen to celebrate their EMDs by nominating them for awards from other organizations, among other methods.

“The EMDs are the heartbeat of what we do. Without them, we’d be snookered, wouldn’t we?” Maxwell posited.

Mullan agrees. “I’d like to give a shout-out to all my colleagues. Obviously I’ve gotten recognition and they haven’t in this instance, but we do the same job.”

She also thanked higher management, including Bloomfield, Overton, and Jonny McMullan, former member of NIAS and current Performance Improvement Manager with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust (Dundonald, U.K.).