The Tsunami in the back of the mind

26 March 2012

Magali Bodmer/Supervisor at ETI-TCS Magali Bodmer/Supervisor at ETI-TCS

Magali Bodmer, one of the supervising coordinators at the ETI operations centre, accepts distress calls at the TCS headquarters from members who are experiencing difficulties abroad.

She organises emergency assistance operations such as with the tsunami disaster.

The so-called “Plateau Assistance” is one of the central points of TCS. While calls by members who have breakdowns on Swiss roads are received on the telephone number 0800 140 140 at the operations centre in Schönbühl, assistance is requested here for situations which are frequently more difficult. The ETI operations centre, which is located at the TCS headquarters in Geneva-Vernier, accepts calls from members with ETI accident and breakdown coverage who are experiencing difficulties while travelling abroad. Whether with a simple car breakdown somewhere in Europe or a health-related emergency on the other end of the world: assistance is provided and appropriate emergency assistance operations are provided here. A woman with strong nerves – Magali Bodmer (38) – makes sure that the best possible solution will be found for all problems.

Human qualities | Magali Bodmer has been working a long time for TCS and is one of the four supervising coordinators who share the coordination tasks in the TCS headquarters. Her team consists of 35 employees (around ten temporary workers are added during the summer) who take turns at the telephone exchange and answer several hundred calls from all over the world every day around the clock, 365 days a year. In 2011, around 130,000 calls were received and roughly 25,000 individual cases were handled. “All members who were encountered an emergency situation far away from home and could not turn to anybody except the ETI headquarters”, explains Magali Bodmer.

That is why the following qualities are particularly important for this activity: “Listening, empathising with the situation of others and being able to quickly find appropriate solutions. In addition, one naturally has to speak different languages”, as she explains. The ultimate point in Magali Bodmer’s life is dedicated to a special chapter. She grew up in a bilingual family with a French-speaking mother and a German-speaking father, and spent the first years of life in Biel, a “linguistic hub”. She attended a German-speaking primary school and moved with her family to the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino when she was eleven. Magali started secondary school without speaking a word of Italian. After completing her commercial schooling examination she attended hotel and tourism management school. After that she lived for a year in Rio de Janeiro, where she learned Portuguese. She learned English in school and “learned Spanish during my travels and thanks to a few courses”, say the talented multilingual woman.

Disaster of the century | Magali Bodmer can relate quite a few experiences from her everyday working life with TCS. But if you ask her about her most impressive experience, she does not hesitate for a moment: “The tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia.” Visibly touched, she remembers that she was with her family in Lugano during the Christmas holidays when she heard about the incident. She immediately grasped the practical consequences of the terrible disaster and therefore returned to Geneva for work. Among the victims were dozens of members with ETI accident coverage, and several hundred injured persons had to be repatriated. “That was a humanly very touching experience. It was even more difficult for us because our director had lost his son and wife who had been on holiday in Sri Lanka.” During those days there was an atmosphere of sorrow at the TCS headquarters, but this resulted in enormous solidarity among colleagues. Everybody was aware that the impossible had to be made possible for the members themselves. Magali recounts: “A man called us and said: ‘Help, I am clinging to a palm tree. Come get me.’ We never did find out whether he was rescued.”


Author/Source: Antonio Campagnuolo/TCS

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