They are the calm voice at the end of the line in times of emergency and the first point of contact for people in crisis. Control Room operators are the frontline of emergency services and International Control Room Week is a chance to champion and celebrate these often-unsung heroes.
Throughout 23 – 29 October, emergency services around the country have been highlighting the incredible work that happens in the control room. Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service’s operators are no exception and have been particularly busy during the recent flooding, having received around 200 calls in 24 hours when Storm Babet brought heavy rain to the county last weekend.
“Our Control Operators are the lifeblood of the Service” said Chief Fire Officer, Simon Hardiman.
“They make sure our assets are deployed to the right place at the right time and provide a vital communication function throughout incidents.
“We are so grateful of the hard work, commitment and dedication of every one of our personnel in the control room – the volume of calls they resolved during our most recent period of flooding is testament to the resilience, flexibility and efficiency of the team.”
In one notable case, the control operator stayed on the phone with a lady stranded in her flooded car for 20 minutes, keeping her calm and talking her through the steps she needed to take until the fire crews arrived.
Olivia Coutts, fire control operator with SFRS for four months, says certain skills help with the role:
“It’s really important in this job to be good with people and have the ability to listen whilst making decisions quickly, effectively and calmly.
“The biggest challenges we face are when callers aren’t sure where they are, as this makes mobilising the fire engine a bit trickier.
“To avoid this, we would recommend people download the What3Words app or keep aware of any key roads they are travelling on and direction of travel.
“No two days are the same in the control room and that, alongside working with great people, is what keeps the job so engaging and rewarding.”