TWO sisters and a brother from Gwynedd who handle 999 calls have been praised as ‘unsung heroes’.

Gareth, Catherine and Becca Sutton, who work for the Welsh Ambulance Service's communications centre in Llanfairfechan, Conwy were highlighted by the Welsh Ambulance Service as part of International Control Room week which celebrates control room colleagues and teams that work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In 2019-20, 999 call handlers answered more than half a million 999 calls and 724,000 non-urgent calls via the 111 and NHS Direct Wales service.

Clinical advice over the telephone to less ill patients also prevented the dispatch of more than 40,000 ambulances.

Becca, an English Literature and Creative Writing graduate who now lives in Deiniolen, seven miles east of Caernarfon, was the first to become a 999 call handler after being inspired by her partner Sion who was working in the role.

“Sion’s since joined the Urgent Care Service, but I still love the work and no two days are the same,” said Becca, aged 26.

“It’s a little strange working with your siblings, especially when we’re all on shift at the same time – there’s always lots of mickey-taking.”

Becca was followed by her older siblings Catherine, 32, and then Gareth, 33, after she told them that call handler roles were available at the ambulance service trust.

“I managed a coffee shop before I joined the service, which was very stressful and my work-life balance was pretty much non-existent,” said Catherine, from Bangor.

“I remember asking Becca if there were any jobs in the ambulance service, and by pure chance, there were, so I applied.

“I love working with my brother and sister.”

Then came Gareth, from Anglesey, who took on the role at the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March after a decade in the construction industry, which meant a daily commute from the island to Cheshire and Merseyside.

“I enjoyed my job but the travelling does start to wear you down,” the eldest sibling said.

“Now I’ve joined the ambulance service, I’ve got a newfound respect for Becca and Catherine and what they do.

“Usually it’s me looking out for my little sisters, but now I’m looking up to them for guidance.

“It’s a unique job and I’m really enjoying it so far.”

Welsh Ambulance Service chief executive Jason Killens said: “When people think about the ambulance service, it’s often those who work on the frontline who get the recognition.

“What they might not appreciate is that we’ve got a huge team of unsung heroes behind the scenes, working just as hard to triage those calls and co-ordinate our response.

“The nature of this work is challenging and rewarding in equal measure, and we’d like to extend a huge thanks to our control room colleagues for their hard work and commitment.”