During the snow back in Jan 13 the control team handled over 300 phone calls during the four days of snow. Right across our area and at 5.00am on Friday the phone started to ring and ring and ring and did not stop for 19 hours. Then started again at 1am and at 2am and with a vengeance at 6.00am on Saturday morning!! This carried on till the Monday with calls from user groups for help, new users inquiring if we could assist them and conference calls with user groups for regular updates.
We did over 5000 miles across the whole group; 1898 in Worcestershire, 1590 in Gloucestershire and over 1500 for Royal Voluntary Service keeping “meals on wheels” running, plus a few jobs to help out a local Doctor by one of our units. We moved in total over 200 members of staff. We deployed 26 units and completed 130 jobs for our user groups, in addition to the RVS tasks (3 units for five days).
We sent over a 1000 SMS messages to pass on job details to units and to ask for job availability. This couldn’t have happened without the controllers so they are key to the success of our team.
Usually I will get advance warning from the User groups based on the weather forecast. And of course we keep a close eye on this ourselves too. Once we go onto standby, the Controllers are asked what shifts they can cover. We split into a Glos team, and a Worcs team to handle the volume of calls. Our phone system automatically diverts calls to the Controller on duty.
When a request comes in from one of our user groups, the Controller’s job is to then find a driver and dispatch them to the required location. Tickets helps immensely by identifying the nearest driver as the crow flies, but there are one or two quirks – like remembering the River Severn is in the way!
All Controllers have a radio base station at home so they can communicate to the drivers whilst they are on the road, getting up to date road conditions and the progress of that job until the driver gets home safely. This gives piece of mind to the drivers when they are out on the road in bad weather knowing there is always someone to talk to back at base.