Is a Quick Response Really Enough?

Does being the quickest make you the best?

Since becoming part of the lone worker solution sector I’ve seen, and heard, a lot about response times; which basically boils down to how quickly a ‘Red Alert’ from a lone worker is answered. Now this is obviously a very important aspect of lone worker protection but my question is, does being the quickest make you the best?

Response time refers to the reaction to an alarm call provided by a lone worker solution provider; these times are obviously very important when it comes to lone worker protection and BS 8484:2016 requires that, on a rolling 12-month basis, 80% of calls must be accepted and the verification process started, within 10 seconds, and 98.5% within 40 seconds.

It’s clear that the quicker you get to an alert the more information can be gathered and the faster the appropriate action can be taken. But what’s happening to your alerts once they’ve been answered? If your alerts are not being handled by a dedicated lone worker, Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), then how can you be sure your calls are not being parked? Think of it this way, if you call your bank and they immediately pick up the phone, however, you’re instantly put on hold, you wouldn’t consider that call answered.

It’s the same for ARCs, you may think your alert has been answered in a timely manner but how long before a fully trained, lone worker dedicated, Operator is listening in? These are all important questions that should be considered, and if you’re not aware of the answers then you need to ask your solution provider because every second counts in an emergency situation. You should also be constantly asking your ARC for up-to-date data regarding response and verification times, this will give you a clearer picture of how your solution is being handled, and thanks to the updated BS 8484:2016 this information should be readily available.

ARC Operations vary greatly and whilst many solution providers look to that initial response as the most important key performance indicator, in lone worker application I believe verification needs to be considered as well.

It’s my view that the verification time is just as critical as the response time. A verification is the process of determining whether an activation message/call is a false alert or a verified alarm. Once an Operator has established a verified alarm, and that an alarm call is required, they should escalate the incident to the appropriate response services in accordance with the escalation instructions. Basically, it’s the time it takes an Operator to investigate the audio/alert and then take a view to decide on the appropriate action, based on parameters set between the provider and the client.

Validating the seriousness of an alert is imperative and can ultimately save lives. BS 8484:2016 requires that 80% of verifications are complete within 120 seconds, 90% within 180 seconds and 98.5% within 600 seconds.

In some respects, the verification of an alert is the most important thing. Rapidly gaining an understanding of an emergency situation and ensuring complete lone worker support as quickly as possible is vital.

It’s also worth considering what your device’s first action is, once a ‘Red Alert’ is activated. There are many devices out there that have many varying functions; some instantly place a call, others look to get a GPS fix first. Whilst getting a GPS fix is important, I believe that placing a call and supporting the user as quickly as possible should be the priority here. It can take up to 60 seconds to get a GPS fix, time which can be crucial in a genuine emergency situation, and a lost opportunity to record and react to what happens in the first minute of an incident.

The SoloProtect Identicom device’s first action is to place a call to our lone worker dedicated ARC, following instantly on from that, the verification process begins. We operate within the compliance requirements of the British standards (BS 8484 2016) but continually set ourselves much more demanding internal targets. In fact, we constantly out-perform what’s required within BS 8484:2016, and place huge importance on both the response and the verification time.

As I’ve already stated the SoloProtect ARC is dedicated to lone workers; this means that its sole purpose is to deal with alarms from SoloProtect lone workers. Our Operators are trained exclusively for the purpose of supporting lone workers, therefore you can be confident that they’ll be there for you if the worst happens. Our priority is lone worker safety, not building stats, therefore, you’ll always be supported by a dedicated lone worker ARC and a fully trained lone worker Operator.

So, in conclusion, having a quick response time is very important, however, lone worker protection is far more complex than that. Answering an alert in record time is not enough, it’s about what you do with that alert and how accurately you verify a situation.

If you’d like to know more about the call handling Service Level Agreements that SoloProtect operate to, please contact me on 0114 399 6000.

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