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2 AUCKLAND CITY HARBOUR NEWS, JUNE 19, 2013
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.co.nz Answering the urgent call for help
Kate Breen used to be a
chef but changed careers
to become a communicator
for the New Zealand Police
handling 111 calls.
Reporter Karina Abadia sat
down with her to find out
why she loves the
challenges and rewards the
calls and says
no two are ever
The ultimate in job satisfaction for
Kate Breen is being on an emergency
call and hearing someone knock on the
door at the other end of the line.
If the caller is having a particularly
tough time you can hear the relief in
their voice when the police officer
walks through the door.''
Before training as a communicator
she worked as a chef for five years but
decided she wanted to do something
She had always toyed with the idea
of working for the police and had heard
that dealing with emergency calls
would give her a good overview of what
being a police officer involves.
The two-month training period at
the Northern Communications Centre
was a steep learning curve, the
Taking her first live calls in the last
week of her training was nerve-
racking. The worst bit was waiting for
that first call but it all went according
to plan. Initially she saw the job as a
stepping stone to becoming a sworn
police officer but a year on she enjoys
it so much she's not sure whether she
will swap her headset for a patrol car.
The Grey Lynn based centre
receives more than a million calls a
year from Cape Reinga to Turangi.
Calls can also come in from outside the
area when other centres are busy.
About half of all calls represent
emergency situations. The non-
emergency calls are often related to
historic crimes such as burglaries or
people phoning the *555 traffic infor-
The Papatoetoe resident gets the full
gamut of calls but finds they fre-
quently relate to domestic abuse and
It is a matter of listening to the cal-
ler and deciding what priority to give
If the situation requires immediate
attention she passes the necessary
information through to a dispatcher in
the same office who sends police to the
An average emergency call lasts for
around five and a half minutes but in
more complex cases she might speak to
someone for an hour or more.
Whatever the reason for the call the
key is to stay calm so you can get the
information you need from the caller,
Most people who call are genuinely
upset about something. Even if it's not
what I would call an emergency situ-
ation it is to them and they are nor-
mally quite receptive once you can
steer them in the right direction.''
Ms Breen loves the fact no two calls
and no two days are ever the same but
more than anything what motivates
her is the difference she is able to
Going home each night knowing
you've done the best you can for each
person makes it all worthwhile,'' she
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