Regional telephony goes live

HEOC dispatcher

With an average of 2,300 999 calls coming into the region every day, there is rarely a quiet moment for our three EOCs.

Although the vast majority of our calls are answered immediately, there are occasional times when all call handlers in an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) will be taking calls so don’t have capacity to answer new ones coming in. When these rare incidences occur, there is a delay in answering the call whilst BT connect the call to a different EOC. 

But that has all changed today, with the go live of regional telephony meaning 999 calls can be moved between our control rooms automatically if all the call handlers in the original EOC are busy. This only happens as an overflow process, so as an example: 

Mr Smith calls 999 from Colchester. His call goes through to Chelmsford EOC, but they’re facing a particular spike in calls and all of their call handlers are on the phone dealing with patients. Mr Smith’s call will be automatically passed to Bedford or Norwich EOC, so Mr Smith will speak with an available call handler there instead. The job will then be placed on the dispatch screen at Chelmsford EOC for the relevant resource to be deployed. 

This will give us better resilience when call volumes spike in a particular control room, but more importantly it will mean our patients get a swift and effective service every time they call us. It will also release pressure on an EOC when another EOC has capacity to pick up an incoming 999 call. 

What is the impact on staff?

Call handlers may pick up a 999 call from a different area. To assist call handlers additional training has been included in this years professional update around address verification, including for those addresses that are not in your area. This training highlights the different ways available to a call handler to search for places. Last month we implemented the emergency button which call handlers can press to get additional help in managing a situation or incident.  If a call handler is unsure when dealing with an out of area call, press the emergency button and the call handling team leader will assist you. 

There will be no impact on ambulance crews. 

Got a question?

Please email or speak to your local Senior EOC manager.

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