Software pioneer APD Communications is launching a special week celebrating the extraordinary work of emergency services call handlers and dispatch teams.
Taking place from October 22-28, International Control Room Week will raise awareness of the life-saving and life-changing work of staff in emergency services control rooms who deal with harrowing and distressing situations on a daily basis.
APD supplies critical, life-saving software to blue light organisations across the UK and also supports vital operations internationally. Building on those links, APD is now inviting individuals and teams in emergency services control rooms across the UK and Europe to back the new campaign and help to establish it as an annual event.
Rhiannon Beeson, APD’s Marketing and Sales Manager, said: “The team at APD spends a lot of time in control rooms – you’ll often find us there on a Friday or Saturday night, trying to better understand the operational need of call takers and dispatchers, so that we continually improve our products.
“Each time we attend there is that one call that really sticks with you and brings on goose bumps, a pounding heart and, sometimes, a tear or two.
“When help gets to that caller there is an overwhelming need to thank and congratulate the team working on that incident. The teams say ‘we’re just doing our job’ but, to us, they’re saving lives every hour of every day – and that needs recognition.
“We know the period from Halloween to Bonfire Night is one of the busiest times of the year for emergency service and critical control rooms, so we picked October 22nd to 28th as the week to say thank you and acknowledge the work they do.”
Organisations who want to take part in the week will receive a celebration box filled with balloons, bunting, sweet treats, badges and stickers for employees to really get into the spirit of the initiative.
Ms Beeson added: “The week is all about creating a feelgood factor and showing control room employees that we care, we appreciate all that they do and it doesn’t go unnoticed.”
As well as celebrating the work of control room teams, International Control Room Week will support a national programme by mental health charity Mind offering mental health support to emergency services personnel and the general public.
Mind is delivering the Blue Light Programme to provide mental health support for emergency services staff and volunteers from ambulance, fire, police and search and rescue services across England and Wales. The programme responds to Mind’s independent research which found that members of the emergency services are more at risk of experiencing a mental health problem, but less likely to seek support.
Ms Beeson explained: “There’s two reasons we picked Mind as a charity to support during this week. The first is that the challenging nature of the job, often dealing with distressing and traumatic situations, puts employees at greater risk of suffering with poor mental health.
“The second is that control rooms across the UK are dealing with record numbers of phone calls on mental health. Last year Britain’s biggest police force, the Metropolitan Police, received a phone call relating to mental health every five minutes and these figures are expected to rise.
“We’ll be promoting the week on social media and, for every #unsungheroes hashtag used during the week, we’ll donate £1 to Mind.”
Control room teams can register to participate in International Control Room Week and receive a free celebration box at www.internationalcontrolroomweek.com
The launch of the International Control Room Week follows the hugely-successful inaugural APD Control Room Awards, which took place earlier this year.
During a highly-emotional awards ceremony, individuals and teams working in control rooms were recognised for demonstrating remarkable skill, professionalism and resilience in responding to crisis situations for the police, fire, ambulance and emergency rescue services.
APD’s software is a vital part in the infrastructure supporting the emergency services and transport and aviation operators nationally and internationally.
The company’s technology is used by 69% of UK police forces; helps to run the London Underground; and is a key part of the critical communications infrastructure at Dubai International, the world’s busiest airport.
APD is also at the forefront of the development of the Emergency Services Network (ESN), a new, state-of-the-art communications network for the UK’s emergency services.
Pictured: APD staff members, from left, Jane Cross, Lisa Hancock, Rhiannon Beeson and Kat Jeffery are encouraging control room teams to join in International Control Room Week.