Ziggo technicians are problem solvers who make many customers happy every day. But did you know that they save lives too? 125 of our technicians are trained first responders who can resuscitate people in distress. With AEDs (or automated external defibrillators) in their vans, they can spring into action at lightning speed.

A Ziggo technician resuscitating someone in cardiac arrest. "It happens more often than you think," says Gertjan Hamstra. He leads the AED team. "Every year, we come to the rescue about 150 times following a call via HartslagNu. This organisation is connected to the 112 control room and has a network of trained citizen first responders throughout the Netherlands. The goal: to resuscitate people in cardiac arrest within the all-important 6-minute window."

How cool would it be?
It is now five years since Gertjan was challenged to think outside the box during a brainstorming session for technicians. He volunteers with the rescue team and drew the connection to his work as a technician. How cool would it be to have an AED unit in the van?, he suggested. "Because when a normal citizen first responder gets a call, he first has to go in search of an AED and then to the location, somewhere in a radius of one and a half kilometres. We are already on the road and with an AED in the van, we can offer help immediately. We also have a great reach across the whole country with all our technicians."

Practice and pizza
Gertjan's great idea was embraced at VodafoneZiggo. Firstly by the organisation, which immediately gave the green light for the equipment and training courses," Gertjan says proudly. And then by the technicians. Seventy-five colleagues signed up and enthusiastically underwent training to become citizen first responders. A vigorous training course, which you are required to repeat every two years. "We organise that training every year, along with a fun pizza night, to keep everyone up to the mark, but also to promote team spirit and so there is sufficient opportunity to pour out your heart. Because you shouldn't underestimate the effect this volunteer work has on you."

All sorts of things go through your mind
Gregory Ruisi can speak to the effect it has on you. He has been in the team from the beginning, and has already resuscitated several victims. He recalls a woman who had collapsed in the bathroom. "I was the first of the first responders on the scene. Her husband was already performing CPR. All sorts of things go through your mind at a time like that, and at the same time, you have to maintain maximum focus. I encouraged him to keep going, cut away her outer clothes, and quickly placed the AED on her chest. When the ambulance crew arrived, they were able to take over straight away. Their equipment is compatible with ours, so they can continue using the pads, and read out our AED."

Gregory was later told the woman had survived. "You naturally want to know that, but it doesn't really sink in. You shut it down, you have to. Sometimes, someone suddenly approaches you, in the supermarket or something. 'Hey, you resuscitated my father.' The crazy thing is, you are so in the moment and preoccupied with your task that you don't remember people's faces at all. And I don't see myself as a 'hero' – that word also comes up sometimes."

Dealing with adrenaline
Kees van Gestel takes a serious approach to this volunteer work. However, he is extremely proud that he can do it. "Making a contribution like that to society is really fantastic and cannot be compared to anything. Nevertheless, it's not for everyone," he adds. "You must be able to keep your cool and stress-resilient. From the moment you get a call, the adrenaline kicks in. It then races through your body for a while afterwards, whether you actually took action or not."

It is important to be mindful of that, Gertjan stresses. "Our support team is available to all technicians who have received a call. We listen to their stories and satisfy ourselves they are doing well. If we realise it is better to take a break or talk about it more, we ensure that happens."

Enthusiasm and interest
The number of first responders in the team has now grown to roughly 125. "An expansion for which we were again given instant approval," Gertjan says. "It is wonderful to see such enthusiasm and support from all sides. From beyond VodafoneZiggo too, as it happens. We have about 400 in-house technicians on the road, as well as about 500 technicians from external companies. They too are now showing serious interest. So who knows, our mobile resuscitation team could get a lot bigger."

AED teamfoto 2