Awards honour control room heroes for selfless public service during the pandemic

Awards honour control room heroes for selfless public service during the pandemic

Heroes of emergency services control rooms have been honoured for their vital work serving the public during a year unlike any other.

The APD Control Room Awards 2021 recognise the selfless and unstinting efforts of control room individuals and teams who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect the public when they are most in need.

The awards, run by APD Communications, are the only accolades of their kind to celebrate the unsung heroes in control rooms across the UK and Ireland.

The 2021 ceremony was held as on online event, due to Covid-19 restrictions, and highlighted remarkable stories of professionalism, dedication and achievement during what has been an extraordinarily challenging year because of the pandemic. These included:

  • Caitlin Brumby, of G4S in partnership with Lincolnshire Police, who became a Call Taker to give something back after she was involved in an horrific road traffic accident, in which two of her close friends died and she suffered life-changing injuries.
  • Natalie Harman, of Kent Police, who acted quickly to prevent two young women being sexually assaulted by two men who had earlier committed a similar crime, and then helped to ensure the suspects were arrested after they fled the scene.
  • Beth Watson, who was appointed Team Leader at North East Ambulance Service in March 2020, at the start of the first national lockdown, when both 999 and 111 calls more than doubled. Beth rose to the challenge and quickly established herself as one of the service’s most reliable and high-performing leaders.
  • Ben Hawkins, of East of England Ambulance Service, who has used his own struggles with mental health to raise awareness about the issues and help others.

Now in their fourth year, the 2021 awards attracted entries from almost 100 organisations across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Almost 500 control room employees have already received pin badges of honour after being nominated as an individual or part of a team.

APD develops critical, life-saving software used by the police and other emergency services organisations across the UK, as well as transport and aviation operations nationally and internationally. The company stages the Control Room Awards annually to ensure outstanding work in control rooms is recognised and publicly rewarded.

APD Director of Control Room Rhiannon Beeson said: “This year’s awards have again showcased amazing examples of resilience and dedication to serving and protecting the public, during a year when control rooms were faced with unprecedented challenges and pressures.

“The response of the control room community to the pandemic has brought to the fore the absolutely critical role these unsung heroes of the emergency services perform under such intense pressures.

“The nominations and winning entries have highlighted so many great initiatives that will have a legacy beyond Covid, as we gradually return to normality.”

The full list of APD Control Room Awards 2021 winners is:

Award for Services to the Public, sponsored by Mark Allen Group

Winner: Jen Dalton, Leicestershire Police

The judges said:

“Jen has done a brilliant job helping the community during the pandemic by organising volunteers to help the vulnerable with various tasks, setting up a food bank and arranging parcels for those alone over Christmas. A great example of supporting the public in a very practical and caring way.”

Control Room Call Taker of the Year, sponsored by RapidSOS

Winner: Hannah Shrimpton, North East Ambulance Service

The judges said:

“Hannah’s overall performance as a Call Operator in the Operations Centre has set a benchmark for excellence in patient care.

“Hannah’s attitude and approach to her work is regularly praised. Her calm, compassionate, professional manner on calls is an inspiration to others and has been highlighted in a number of commendations, both from her colleagues and members of the public she has helped.

“In maintaining such a high level of performance, Hannah makes a valuable difference to patients’ lives every time she comes to work.”

Control Room Dispatcher of the Year

Winner: Natalie Harman, Kent Police

The judges said:

“Natalie uses her skills to assist in apprehending offenders and managing multiple incidents effortlessly and her commendation for handing 14 I-Grades, 2 pursuits and an NPAS deployment show excellence.”

Young Achiever of the Year, sponsored by Telent

Winner: Ben Hawkins, East of England Ambulance Service

The judges said:

“Ben is a passionate champion of mental health issues, among colleagues, the ambulance service and the wider community, including through media interviews and articles.

“He is involved in a vast range of positive initiatives, demonstrating maturity far beyond his years. Ben has achieved so much for one so young.”

Community Champion, sponsored by Red Box

Winner: Edward Doherty, National Ambulance Service of Ireland

The judges said:

“Edward is a life-saver both in his role as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher and outside work. He is totally dedicated to supporting his local community, as a founder and key member of his local first responder group, regularly going to the assistance of people in life-threatening situations.

“He is now also working as a volunteer helping with the roll out of the Covid vaccination programme.”

Leader of the Year

Winner: Beth Watson, North East Ambulance Service

The judges said:

“Beth has adapted very quickly and seamlessly to her new role and established herself as one of the most reliable and best performing in the service. Beth is regularly identified and praised for going above and beyond in her role and has received an excellence report from one of her service managers.

“She has led the team through a huge increase in calls, challenging her colleagues to perform whilst also supporting everyone through the GROW coaching method.”

Team of the Year, sponsored by Emergency Services Times

Winner: Digital Contact Team, Metropolitan Police

The judges said:

“The Digital Contact Team is a UK leader in the movement towards digital communications, which has been even more vital in view of the huge demands placed on emergency services during the pandemic.

“Over the past year the team’s focus has been on diverting as much demand as possible away from telephony and towards digital, to ensure service provision to Londoners has been protected. Their work has delivered a significant shift to digital channels and consistently excellent results, including in levels of public satisfaction.”

Special Recognition Award for Bravery and Courage, sponsored by UK Cloud

Winner: Caitlyn Brumby, G4S in partnership with Lincolnshire Police

The judges said:

“Caitlyn has shown tremendous physical and mental strength in turning a deeply traumatic experience into the motivation to find a new purpose as a Call Taker.

“Having lost two of her friends and suffered life-changing injuries in a terrible road accident, Caitlyn decided she wanted to help other people in critical situations.

“Caitlyn performs her role with professionalism and distinction and her extraordinary courage is an inspiration to all her colleagues.”

Control Room Ambassador of the Year

Winner: Colleen Whelan, National Ambulance Service of Ireland

The judges said:

“Colleen is an inspirational and hugely respected figure within the National Ambulance Service of Ireland. Her vast knowledge and experience, allied to outstanding work ethic, make her invaluable to the service.

“She is truly dedicated to patient care and to supporting her colleagues.”

The John Gilhooly Unsung Hero Award

Winner: Andy Taylor, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service

The judges said:

“Andy is the epitome of the unsung hero. He lives and breathes his role and has shown total commitment to the fire service over more than three decades.

“Andy goes above and beyond in supporting his colleagues, always putting the service and his colleagues before himself. He is a deserving recipient of this award.”

Lifetime Achievement, sponsored by Embrace Child Victims of Crime

Winner: Keith Diamond, London Fire Brigade

The judges said:

“Keith is living legend within London Fire Brigade and thoroughly deserves his moment in the spotlight after an amazing career dedicated to serving and protecting the public.

“Keith is utterly committed to his role, the control room and London Fire Brigade. There can be no more worthy winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Leading technology and critical digital infrastructure specialist, Telent, is once more the Platinum Partner of the awards and also sponsored the Young Achiever of the Year Award.

Shani Latif, Telent’s Sales Director, said: “It’s always an honour to support these awards, which highlight the incredible work of our dedicated and highly professional control room heroes.

“The amazing stories these awards bring forward are truly inspirational, humbling and so deserving of recognition.”

Other leading organisations supporting the awards are The British Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (British APCO); Embrace Child Victims of Crime; Emergency Services Times; Mark Allen Group; RapidSOS; Red Box and UKCloud.

The APD Control Room Awards 2021 judges are:

  • Mike Isherwood, Managing Director, APD Communications.
  • Shani Latif, Sales Director, Telent.
  • John Anthony, President, British Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (BAPCO).
  • Monica Million, Executive Director, Colorado 9-1-1 Resource Centre.
  • Teri Seaber, former Group Commander, Combined Fire Control of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk Fire and Rescue Services.

© TCCA. Website design: Peacock Carter