Command Support System improvement for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue
The Command Support System gathers relevant incident data and assimilates all of these feeds into a single application. Effective decision making is supported by collaboration across every level in the command pyramid.
The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service respond to incidents ranging from road and rail accidents to fuel and chemical spills, aviation and waterway accidents, collapsed buildings, large animal rescues and fires. These incidents had become increasingly complex and the amount of information available had made maintaining situational awareness challenging.
Ultimately, it was during the tragic fire at Windsor Castle in 1992 that the need for a specialist Incident Command Unit and Multi-Role Vehicle were identified. These vehicles needed to be equipped with the very best information systems and communications technology available to enable operational commanders to make difficult decisions, in challenging and dynamic circumstances.
The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service chose telent’s Command Support System for its situational awareness management platform. Command Support System is a software platform that improves situational awareness by collating together all data that might be relevant to an incident in one place. The Command Support System keeps the area of operation in contact with local command units, who in turn can communicate with emergency operations centres who are remote from the event and can be connected via a mobile or satellite link. Effective decision making is supported by allowing staff members at every level in the command pyramid to collaborate, plan and respond to changes on the ground. The Command Support System was really tested in 2011, when Berkshire’s largest ever incident, a fire affecting 300 hectares of forest, occurred at Swinley near Bracknell. An effective response plan was initiated using telent’s system to bring the blaze under control, which took a number of days. This involved 200 firefighters from seven counties, exceeding the resource demands of fighting the Windsor Castle fire in 1992. It was particularly challenging because the fire was so close to built-up areas, including the high-security Broadmoor Hospital.
The Command Support System application installed on Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s command vehicles also allowed direct coordination with the command vehicles deployed by the South Central Ambulance Trust and Thames Valley Police. Olaf Baars, deputy chief fire officer for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said “People have been talking about interoperability for many years but I believe that we are the first to be able to demonstrate true multi-agency interoperability at this level”.
Multi-agency interoperability: The Command Support System software can be integrated with other emergency services to provide a coordinated response to incidents.
A collaborative platform: telent’s solution formed a common platform which meant that staff were able to maintain full situational awareness across the incident at every level in the command pyramid. Staff were empowered to collaborate, plan and respond to changes on the ground which supported effective decision making.
Incident response clarity: A single view of an incident was provided by the Command Support System which left staff in no doubt as to what was going on, who was doing what and where they were doing it.
Data resilience: The fact that an incident’s data was replicated across all Command Support System installations incorporated data resilience. This allowed operations to continue and recover smoothly if equipment failed, power was lost or another disruption affected part of the incident team.
Improved staff efficiency: All information relating to the incident can be captured and shared across the command pyramid. This improved staff efficiency because they could proactively monitor and review incident data rather than having to wait for reports to be delivered.
“They [telent] understand incident command and have produced a command support application that is unrivalled. The Command Support System is a ‘killer application’ and uses advanced, integrated command, control and communications technology to provide major improvements in command information sharing and decision making for officers managing major incidents.”
Olaf Baars, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.