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Dundee fire service call handler reveals how he helped save person trapped in burning car

Marc Benedictus.
Marc Benedictus.

A fire service call handler has revealed how he helped someone trapped inside a burning car.

Dundee-based operations controller Marc Benedictus answered a 999 call after a crash near Perth and immediately sent firefighters to the scene.

He helped direct crews to rescue a passenger trapped inside a burning car and to make sure there were no other injuries.

Marc said: “Some calls absolutely stick with you and this one was particularly challenging.

“Someone was trapped in the burning car after a bad collision and we had received a number of 999 calls, and all of them were from people who were naturally panicking or asking for advice.

“We have to balance giving advice to the caller while getting as much information as possible to enable us to quickly mobilise the correct resources for the emergency from the right location.

“It can be very intense but those crews arrived very quickly and were able to rescue that person from the burning car and no other person was hurt.

“It was very rewarding to be able to draw upon my training and experience to help others.”

Marc has told of his role and the training he received as part of a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) recruitment drive launching on Monday (July 10).

The service is looking for staff to work in control rooms in Dundee, Edinburgh and Johnstone.

Marc added: ” I don’t think there’s any other job like it – this is different to a call centre job, and no one should come in thinking that.

“This is a career full of opportunities, teamwork, challenges, and even new qualifications.

“It is mentally challenging role, with a lot of training – but the reward is most certainly worth it.”

Successful applicants will undergo a 14 week training period, learning how to co-ordinate emergency fire and rescue response to everything from house fires and road traffic collisions, to major incidents and severe weather related flooding.

Trainees will also learn how to give potentially life-saving advice, providing fire survival guidance to people who are trapped by smoke or fire.

Marc added it is these calls that can be the most challenging of all.

He said: “These calls can be difficult – you are on the line to someone who is in a life-threatening situation and you are their lifeline.

“It’s important to stay calm for them, give strong and direct instructions and survival advice, while working with your team to mobilise resources and direct local firefighters to the exact location of the person who is trapped.

“The relief you feel when you hear the sirens in the background or the firefighters entering the room is incredible.”

Recruitment is open until September 1, or until 800 applications have been made.

Libby Logan, head of operations control across Scotland, said: “Our operations control rooms are tight-knit teams, who work with local firefighters to respond to emergency calls across Scotland.

“A willingness to learn, a strong team ethic, the ability to stay calm under pressure while handling numerous tasks and a real ability to motivate others and form relationships are all essential attributes.

“We want the best of the best to take up these roles on Scotland’s unseen frontline.”

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