Writing this on a plane, flying back from Singapore to London following a week learning about the work of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), I am struck by how far [literally] Emergency Services Times (EST) magazine has come since its launch issue, back in November 2000.
That first issue of EST was the brainchild of my partner in crime, David Brown, who as the Advertisement Manager of our sister title at the time, Fire Times, had noted how the same names of advertisers in the blue light B2B trade magazines of the day kept coming up. Many of the same suppliers of fleet cars, fire appliances, ambulances, PPE and fabrics, medical kit, operational tools and training equipment all supported numerous trade titles.
David’s belief was that a single multi-agency magazine covering all the UK emergency services markets would allow those advertisers supplying across multiple services to achieve a better return on their investment. He wasn’t wrong.
What to call it?
Together, David Brown and I batted around some names for our new magazine: Blue Light Times… but not all first responders can use blue lights; 999 Times… where would we be listed in A-Z Guides? What about the other emergency numbers? 112 and 911? Were we over-thinking this? Of course we were. (Am I asking myself questions and then answering them? You bet I am.) And so Emergency Services Times was born, with David selling the advertising and me as Editor.
EST spawned a printed Who’s Who Directory (from 2004-2012) and, of course, was the inspiration for the launch of The Emergency Services Show, in 2006. The magazine is still as influential in the success of the mighty ESS today. As the exhibition expanded over the years, a move from Stoneleigh Park to the NEC in Birmingham was inevitable. But one consistent thread was the collaboration between EST and ESS.
Building a community
The content of the magazine featured the latest thinking from the greatest minds in the UK’s blue light sector, both from the innovations of the suppliers and the strategy and operational impact on the ground of the world’s leading emergency services. The Emergency Services Show themes and content mirrored those of EST and our readers made up almost two thirds of ESS visitors. Our community was born.
Over the 23 years of the publication to date, David and I have witnessed some remarkable change in the sector, driven in part by large-scale world events. Through the tragedy of 9/11 in 2001, the London bombings of 7/7 in 2005; the London Olympic Games in 2012; COVID in 2019 plus annual natural disasters, public disorder and responding to ‘every day’ incidents, EST magazine has soaked up the learning from each one and worked with the sector directly to ensure we were able to report on the learnings from such emergencies.
Changes in technology
One of the most recent accelerations of change in the sector was the COVID pandemic. Coupled with some outdated hardware and software, the need for the sector to invest in technology was obvious. Harnessing the power of digital technology in recent years has been at the forefront of change in the blue light sector and EST’s pages have continued to evolve alongside it – both in the reporting of digital transformation challenges and successes in the sector and through evolving our own delivery methods of information, through regular newsletters, a regularly updated website and an online PDF version of each magazine.
In a more connected world than ever before, where the pace of change is so rapid, reporting in print on news and the latest comment from the most informed in the sector every two months no longer makes logical sense.
You only have to walk through any train station or shopping centre to see most people glued to their phones and other online devices. Printed media is just not where the majority of people are consuming their information – whether that’s national news or very sector-specific trade magazines. The reality is that we need to go where the readers are. And the readers are online.
A new digital presence
I’m delighted to report that over the last six months, we have been working to create our exciting new online offering, which includes: a comprehensive new website, which is updated daily and features six core channels, common to all emergency services; weekly and monthly e-newsletters; a new series of webinars, which kicked off towards the back end of November; and a new initiative called EST Insights.
Our expectation is that our Insights papers will provide the sector with an in-depth analysis of the most important topics affecting the emergency services. From AI to VR training, and from trauma care to digital transformation, EST Insights will inform the readers about the policy and strategy behind certain topics, opinion from the leading associations and stakeholders and what the state of adoption of each topic is across the emergency services. They will also include numerous case studies of best practice.
I believe our Insights papers, which will be available to download via the new EST website, will set the standard for thought leadership content for the sector and I can’t wait for you all to receive your first one.
From print to digital
I’m hugely grateful to our designer, Charlotte Prior for her commitment to EST over many years, taking our words and making the high quality, professional looking magazine that we have known and loved throughout our print journey.
As part of our EST online community you, our readers, will have access to so much more industry information, updated daily and direct to your phones, inboxes and PCs. There’s so much happening in the sector and the digital transformation of EST allows us to share everything with you as it happens.