21 November 2023, by Emily Proctor

Since the ongoing staff shortages at the emergency services do not seem to be disappearing any time soon, control rooms in a number of Dutch cities have found a creative solution to the problem: Dutch university students are now answering 112 calls. 

Dutch students trained to operate in 112 control rooms in Amsterdam and Utrecht

A number of control rooms have already deployed students to help answer emergency calls quickly. In both Amsterdam and Utrecht, the control rooms have a number of trained 112 call handlers who are also students at university or are undertaking a higher professional education qualification (HBO). 

The requirements for the positions include being enrolled in the second year or above at university or HBO study, but they do not need to be following a course related to policing. In Utrecht, students have been in training since the start of September in order to take over roles in the control room and officially started their new jobs last week. 

Hiring students to fill positions means that 112 calls can be answered faster

The main reason for hiring students at the control room is so that 112 calls can be handled quickly, even with the ongoing staff shortages. According to NOS, at the moment there is not enough capacity to answer all the calls received at the control room immediately. “That gives every operator a stomach ache,” Wieke Bosch, operational specialist at the control room in Utrecht, told the broadcaster.

Bosch also stressed that the quality of 112 reports will not be compromised by the new additions to the team. “It involved a tough selection procedure, which is comparable to all other colleagues who start here,” says Bosch.

There are currently nine students who are working part-time at the control room in Utrecht. Before working, they were required to take a psychological test and a full screening. “We checked whether they are suitable and can handle the work. It is stressful and sometimes serious reports are received,” Bosch explained to NOS.

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