Technology creates many shortcuts in our day to day lives, making things more enjoyable and work more efficient; however, in times of crisis the right tech to deploy for a rapid response becomes imperative. For the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (Princess Royal’s Volunteer Corps), a charity that deploys trained volunteers during emergencies, there was a need to move away from an inefficient patchwork of calls, WhatsApp and text messages to a more effective and efficient solution, and so it adopted a UK innovation called Callmy Alert.
The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry is a charity of 150 professionally trained female volunteers, who need to deploy quickly to staff operations rooms and incident lines in the event of a crisis. It is a crucial cog in the resilience measures of the capital’s civil and military authorities – such as the City of London Police, Ministry of Defence, London Coroners and the London Local Authorities’ Panel.
Members of the Corps are on standby 24/7, 365 days a year. Communicating quickly with volunteers and getting them on-site is crucial as incidents evolve at speed which is challenging as many members are in full-time roles in their busy day jobs. Callmy Alert enabled the Corps to cut across traditional communication problems to reach members at the time it matters most.
First Aid Nursing Yeomanry
Founded in 1907, with a mission to provide volunteers, trained and capable of supporting civil and military authorities within the UK during any major emergency, the Corps is an all-female organisation that deploys multi-faceted rapid response teams to a crisis. It is the world’s longest established uniformed ‘military’ voluntary organisation for women.
Deployments in recent years include assisting immediately following the terrorist attacks in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge and in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. Two years later, the Corps supported again following the Fishmongers’ Hall incident.
Since March 2020, the Corps has provided over 1,000 days of free support to nine organisations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in roles ranging from call handling in the NHS Nightingale Hospital London and a number of Coroners to Personal Staff Officers for the City of London Police and the Royal London Hospital.
The Corps provides a much-needed professional surge relief at critical moments and is renowned for its flexibility and adaptability.
At the time of adopting Callmy Alert in January 2021, the Corps needed a faster and more efficient emergency activation system in how it tackled emergency incidents – something that could reach all volunteers immediately, regardless of where they were, what they were doing or an individual’s technological know-how. Previously it had been predominantly using email and WhatsApp to reach its members.
WhatsApp, while great for socializing, is not an effective option during a crisis. It can be silenced, deleted, turned off, and crucial information can get lost in a stream of messages from friends and family.
“Members are finding this app useful and easy to use. It is reassuring to be able to get messages out from different pieces of equipment – by using the App on mobile phone, logging in on a laptop or even leaving a voice message using any available phone” said Staff Commander Alexandra Milne, Operations Officer.
Getting the message through
Given the nature of some of the jobs of their volunteers, phones are often turned to silent, which is a problem when an important emergency alert needs to get through. One of the appeals of Callmy Alert for the Corps was its ability to override the silent mode, should it need to.
The Corps were able to use Callmy Alert messages to:
- Request acknowledgment of the messages so that the number of recipients can be monitored
- Override devices that are set to silent or DND – vital during out of hours situations
- Repeat message notifications until the user has responded in the manner requested
In addition, the Operations Team found it useful to see how quickly members were able to access the messages via a management portal that can be accessed via computer, tablet or phone, which they were unable to do previously without scrolling through a thousand WhatsApp messages. The Portal also includes message response details and the ability to delete messages to remove them from end user devices – a useful feature to maintain security and information control.
“As a charity, we are incredibly grateful to Callmy for providing us with this fantastic system,” said Commandant Philippa Lorimer MBE, Commanding Officer.
The punch-through of the information has been crucial to the Corps in being able to respond quickly to circumstances. It used the system to great effect for mobilising staff during the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral (Operation FORTH BRIDGE). The volunteers were quickly alerted to the news of the death of His Royal Highness and to confirm that the Corps had been put on ‘standby’ – this effectively means that volunteers would check their availability over the coming days and begin to make any necessary arrangements regarding employment or family commitments. A subsequent message was sent, containing shifts patterns and further details, which required members to acknowledge it.
A crisis never happens on a planned schedule, you simply don’t know when, how or where something is going to happen. When lives may depend on it, you need to be sure, whatever the time, whatever the situation important messages can always get through and Callmy Alert provides a fantastic solution.
Callmy is a UK technology company that develops the Callmy Alert service. Callmy Alert ensures organisations can communicate and recover from challenging situations.
Callmy Alert has been designed to overcome the issues of having to use solutions, such as SMS, WhatsApp and email, that have not been designed specifically for crisis communication.These do not always guarantee the most successful outcome and can severely undermine operational resilience when stressed. In addition, Callmy Alert Integration capabilities can automate the delivery of critical communication and will ensure the right people get the right information at the right time.
CallmyAlert is deployed in Higher Education, with the NHS, Emergency Services, Government and the Finance Sector. The service helps to support business continuity, emergency communication and the duty of care required for staff in lone working situations.
For further information visit: https://www.callmy.com