Belfast Trust transforms response handling of emergencies

8 Dec 2009

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust – one of the largest of its kind employing 20,000 staff – has deployed the first phase of its automated Emergency Response Management system using SpeechStorm technology to transform the way it handles and responds to urgent incidents.

Until now, the trust’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to an incident has relied on a manual process to collate and report on responses from medical staff to an emergency.

Demanding on resources

The system based on pagers has been particularly resource intensive. The daily testing of pagers results in hundreds of calls being managed through an already busy switchboard service.

Weekly “scenario” testing, which necessitates the emergency responder to ring in and confirm their name and ETA, further exacerbates manning levels and switchboard capacity.

The trust set about in search of a system that would take the strain off its switchboard and speed up processes while also providing the timely and accurate information vital to ensuring a coherent service is provided in response to an active emergency.

Paul Duffy, co-director of IT and Telecoms at Belfast Trust and his team rejected a number of suppliers in favour of SpeechStorm.

“We recognised that to make this project a success we would need guidance and expertise and a consultative partnership. SpeechStorm came with the experience, expertise in speech deployment and approach that appealed to us and here we are a few short months later with a system that we have rolled out to over half our pilot groups.

“SpeechStorm has helped to clarify our requirements and decode them and as a result we now have a system that is meeting all our requirements.

“We can record information more quickly; more pagers can be tested; we are clearly taking the strain off the switchboard; we have better and more comprehensive information so we can provide a better service within current staffing levels; and we have freed up switchboard staff to handle more general public calls,” Duffy said.

How SpeechStorm works

The Belfast Trust’s emergency response system is underpinned by SpeechStorm’s Emergency Notification solution which combines an automated, speech-based application with web-based management control. This provides the Trust with a fully automated, real-time facility for capturing acknowledgements from responding personnel, along with details of their availability to help with an incident.

The SpeechStorm system harnesses the trust’s existing data and telephone network and is being used in conjunction with its current emergency pager system, enabling the trust to fully automate the testing of pagers and indeed test a greater number of pagers than before and capture the required management information, in real time.

“By adopting the SpeechStorm Emergency Notification solution, the trust is able to replace its current live call-handling set-up, and provide a reliable and consistent self-service application, with 24/7 availability,” explained Oliver Lennon, CEO of SpeechStorm.

“This will have a tremendous impact on efficiency and service, by keeping operating costs down,” Lennon added.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years