Meeting the unsung heroes

It’s not every day you spend an afternoon at work feeling utterly humbled, surrounded by people who volunteer their time to saving other people’s lives.  But that’s exactly what happened to me when I chaired the O2 Emergency Services Volunteer Round Table, focussed on community safety in a digital world.

We proudly welcomed representatives from each of our chosen volunteer organisations, the National Search and Rescue Dog Association (NSARDA),Community First Responders (CFR)  the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes and Lowland Rescue who are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year.  Our volunteers were joined by handpicked representatives from across our business – our Network and IT teams, The Lab, our new business incubator Wayra, Fraud & Security, the Criminal Justice Practice and our Social Media team.

Telecommunications is rightly recognised as a key part of the national infrastructure alongside water, food, energy, finance, health, transport, emergency services and government.  And mobile has proved critical in both every day circumstances and in an emergency, ensuring we are contactable at any time.  Here at O2, we believe sharing our expertise and innovation is a great way to support the volunteer organisations who are on the front line every day supporting the wider emergency services.  Our technology and services are used by organisations such as Network Rail and Transport for London, a number of central and local Government bodies, 27 Police Forces, 11 Fire Services and four Ambulance Trusts.  Opening up the possibilities of technology to these volunteers to use isn’t just important; it really could make the difference between life and death.

I enjoyed 30 years as a Police officer in various uniform and detective roles spanning child protection, public order command, firearms and Air Support until I retired as the Deputy Chief Constable for Lancashire.  My time with the Police meant that I had come across many of the volunteer organisations we’re now working with.  I understood their dedication and professionalism, but listening to them set out the challenges they face was humbling, inspiring and frustrating.  Week in, week out these organisations provide vital support to UK citizens, yet the professionals and volunteers alike aren’t equipped with the right technology to service their public in the best way.  They face some real, practical problems and we believe we really can make a difference.

Staying on top of the latest tech developments can be a minefield for many larges businesses, but for this group of dedicated charities this is an even greater hurdle.  We explored how our technology and expertise can help meet each organisations challenges, improve outcomes and enhance the critical work that they do.  We talked about how digital services, PR and Social Media can help engage their communities, and how real time data could be used to further improve emergency responses.

Billy Darcy, MD Public Sector hosted the afternoon, he said ‘it was a privilege to meet people who volunteer their time and expertise to help others when they most need help. This country has an army of dedicated people who give up their time to be there for each of us in an emergency – you never know when you or your loved ones will need their help.  Being able to use our skills, technology and innovation means we can help to  provide community safety in a digital world.  These special partnerships make me feel very proud to work for O2.’

The talented Joel Cooper was on hand to record the conversations in the way he does best (see above) so you can see all the topics we talked about.  And we’ll  keep the Emergency Services pages of the Blue updated as we progress our ideas over the coming weeks.  You can find out more about how O2 support the National Search and Rescue Dog Association (NSARDA), Community First Responders (CFR) and Blood Bikes on the Emergency Services pages of the Blue.