The unsung heroes of Britain’s blue light services have been honoured in the first national awards for control room staff.
Among those recognised at the APD Control Room Awards 2018 were control room staff who supported the response by London Fire Brigade to the Grenfell Tower inferno, which claimed 71 lives. The brigade’s Two Watch control room team was named Team of the Year for their work on the night of 16 June 2017, when they took more than 370 calls within a four-hour period, the majority from people inside the tower facing desperate situations. The team remained calm and clear and used their training to provide advice and guidance to help as many people as possible escape the burning building.
Team members never wavered from their task, answering calls and supporting people trapped in the tower, including those with little or no hope of survival. They maintained focus throughout, supporting each other to carry on under unremitting pressure.
Since that fateful night, Two Watch members have supported firefighters who tackled the blaze in fundraising events and have attended memorial services to support the Grenfell Tower survivors.
The Control Room Awards judges said, “Two Watch showed exceptional team spirit and extraordinary resilience while delivering an outstanding service in desperately difficult circumstances. It speaks volumes that, when they were relieved of duty after sharing a horrific night shift, not a single member of the watch left alone. They waited until they were all together and walked out as one.”
The Control Room Awards also recognised a series of individuals for their remarkable work.
They included: Sanchez Singh, from Greater Manchester Police, who gave up his own time on New Year’s Eve and used his language skills to help a family to understand and grieve at the loss of a missing person who had sadly drowned; David (Edd) Redwood, of Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, who demonstrated exceptional performance and collaboration with several services in the multi-agency management of a flash flooding situation and helped save the life of an elderly woman trapped in rapidly-rising floodwater; Leanne Ross, from Police Scotland, who showed exemplary call-handling skills in dealing calmly and effectively with an extremely traumatic incident in which critical injuries had been inflicted by a suspect armed with a chainsaw; and Julie Burgess, from Devon and Cornwall Police, who showed phenomenal bravery during an incident on her way home from work. Julie put herself in imminent danger to single-handedly save the life of a young man threatening to throw himself from a bridge.
The first national awards to celebrate the life-saving and life-changing work of staff in critical control rooms are run by APD Communications, which develops critical, life-saving software used by the police and other emergency services organisations across the country, as well as transport and aviation operators nationally and internationally. The winners were chosen from more than 200 nominations and announced at an inspiring awards ceremony held at the De Vere Orchard Hotel in Nottingham.
APD Managing Director Mike Isherwood, one of the Control Room Awards judges, said, “It has been deeply moving and truly humbling to hear so many accounts of how control room staff keep the public safe and secure, day after day.
“It was such a difficult task to select the winners from so many excellent nominations. There were nominations for extraordinary individuals and teams who make an invaluable contribution to emergency services organisations and society as a whole.
“We know they represent hundreds of people in control rooms right across the country who perform their duties with such care, commitment, professionalism and resilience. Their amazing work is normally hidden from public view, so we’re delighted that, working with our partners, we have been able to give them the recognition and profile they so richly deserve. I’m also pleased to announce that the awards will be an annual event.”
Leading tech company telent Technology Services is the Platinum Partner of the awards, with pioneering technology companies Sopra Steria and Seed Software as Bronze Sponsors. British APCO (Association of Public Safety Communications Officials) and the International Critical Control Rooms Alliance (ICCRA) also backed the awards, while critical communications data capture, storage and analysis specialist Red Box Recorders sponsored the Team of the Year award.
The full list of APD Control Room Awards 2018 winners is:
Award for Services to the Public, sponsored by telent
Winner: Sanchez Singh, Greater Manchester Police
Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by APD Communications
Winner: Lyn Juby, London Fire Brigade
Control Room Dispatcher of the Year
Winner: David (Edd) Redwood, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service
Leader of the Year
Winner: Philip Quickenden, Suffolk Police
Control Room Call Taker of the Year, sponsored by Sopra Steria
Winner: Leanne Ross, Police Scotland
Community Champion Award
Winner: Clive Hamilton, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service
Young Achiever of the Year, sponsored Seed Software
Winner: Melissa Starmer – Nottinghamshire Police
Special Recognition for Bravery and Courage Award
Winner: Julie Burgess – Devon and Cornwall Police
John Gilhooley Unsung Hero Award (dedicated posthumously to John Gilhooley who served in the Scottish Ambulance Service control room for almost 30 years)
Winner Jules Lockett – London Ambulance Service
Team of the Year, sponsored by Red Box Recorders
Winner: London Fire Brigade (Two Watch)
For further information on the APD Control Room Awards go to www.controlroomawards.com