Do Response Times Still Matter?

At the recent LGA Fire Conference in Brighton, ORH was very pleased to run a busy workshop session looking at response times and attendance standards for fire and rescue services. We presented innovative analysis on the increases in response times to fires in England and Wales, and the implications of these. To support our quantitative assessment, we were joined by Dave Etheridge (past president of CFOA) who offered his insights from an operational perspective. The full abstract from the workshop was as follows:

Over the past decade the number of incidents attended by UK fire services has fallen, yet it has coincided with an increase in average response times.  At a time when HMICFRS is asking services to demonstrate efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery, it’s essential that FRSs understand why it now takes longer to respond to fewer incidents.  In this workshop we will consider the effect this trend has on the fire service and the public, the factors that are driving it, and the strategies management has at its disposal to reverse it.

Using the most recent national data on incident statistics and response times, we will examine the relationships between key performance indicators and, more specifically, how longer response times can affect operational outcomes and society.  We believe that this new insight will promote lively discussion about the importance of response times, and how to quantify these through real time data analytics.  For comparison purposes, we will present analysis on trends for fire services internationally and on ambulance response times in the UK.  Finally, by using conclusions reached during the analysis, we will explore potential approaches for reducing response times, optimising coverage and, ultimately, reducing risk to the public.

If you would like to view the slides from the presentation, or have any questions about the issues raised, please contact Graham Holland (

ORH’s DCT Cited as Good Practice For Fire Services

Wales Audit Office has published a report on the maturity of local government in use of data. This report investigates the technology available to public sector organisations, the rate of technological change and the importance of data-driven decision making. The objective is to explore the extent to which local authorities in Wales are making use of these processes.

We are very pleased to see that ORH’s Dynamic Cover Tool (the DCT) is cited as an example of best practice by fire services, with particular reference to its application in London Fire Brigade (see page 47 of the report). The DCT helps to improve incident and risk coverage and ensures that resources are used as efficiently as possible. More details are available here.

ORH Presents 10-year Paramedic Services Plan to Wellington County Council

Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Service’s 10-year plan, developed by ORH, has been approved in principle by Wellington County Council following a presentation to councillors in May. In particular, the suggested relocation of the Hillsburgh station was supported by the City of Erin’s Mayor. The move, alongside increased staffing, will improve response times in the area significantly. The full plan recommends relocating four stations in the County and enhancing vehicle deployments by 588 ambulance hours per week. South Western Ontario’s news website covered the Council meeting; further details can be found here.

ORH’s Patient Transport Modelling Featured in the OR Society Magazine

Find out how ORH’s patient transport simulation modelling helped HealthShare NSW, Australia, in the latest edition of The OR Society’s Impact magazine. Software engineer Tom Boness and consultant Hannah Mayes from ORH discuss how a collaborative approach with HealthShare NSW enabled them to maximise efficiency across the state as they transitioned to a new model of patient transport. You can read the full article in the Spring 2018 edition, as featured on the publisher’s website.

Recommendations from Deloitte and ORH Independent Service Review of EEAST Published

ORH and Deloitte were commissioned to assess the operational and financial needs of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust. ORH used analysis and benchmarking to identify potential operational efficiencies, and simulation modelling to understand resourcing requirements and the trajectory to meeting national standards. Deloitte undertook financial modelling to identify other efficiencies and quantify the economic implications of different implementation scenarios. The review resulted in a number of recommendations, the identification of optimal resourcing profiles to re-roster the Trust, and a contracting framework to fund the service. For more information, please read the EEAST news release.

Ambulance Leadership Forum 2018

Our managing director, Chris Polden, will be presenting at the Ambulance Leadership Forum on Wednesday 21 March at 8:30 am.  Chris’s talk ‘A Decade of Change: The Capacity Challenge’ will draw on ORH’s experience of working with Ambulance Services in the UK for over 30 years. During this time there have been substantial changes both in the demands placed on Ambulance Services and how that demand is dealt with. The presentation will highlight some areas where capacity has been released within the ambulance service over the past decade and where some constraints to efficient ambulance operations have been introduced. We hope you can join Chris for an exciting insight into ambulance data.

ORH develop population tool for Sense

ORH collaborated with the charity Sense in 2017 to develop a tool for exploring data about the deafblind population in the UK. Sense supports people with sensory impairments or complex needs so they can enjoy more independent lives. The tool developed by ORH provides estimates of the population who have a combined sight and hearing impairment, from 2015 through to 2035, by area, age and gender. This information will enable Sense, together with local authorities and health administration areas, to better plan future services such as housing, resource centres and wellbeing programmes. ORH is proud to have completed this project as part of the Operational Research Society Pro-bono OR scheme.

ORH and FireServiceRota team up to take operational preparedness to the next level

A key challenge faced by Fire & Rescue Services is tactical and operational preparedness. This focuses on the ability to have the right people, tools, vehicles and skills ready at the right time and place. As a result, organisations constantly search for better ways to predict and react in circumstances when normal operating function is disrupted.

Consultancy and technology companies, like ORH and FireServiceRota, have become allies in supplying innovative products to help Fire & Rescue Services solve these complex planning and mobilisation challenges.

Dynamic Cover for real-time support

To address these challenges, ORH developed the Dynamic Cover Tool (DCT) to assist decision-making in emergency service control rooms. The DCT gives clear insight into risk coverage and ensures resources are used as efficiently as possible.

The DCT achieves this by providing a real-time risk map to support officers in making appropriate back-up or standby moves for emergency response vehicles. For example, in situations where many resources are occupied responding to a major incident, or appliances being off the run due to maintenance or crewing deficiencies.

With the DCT, Fire Control can quickly decide if it is necessary to relocate available resources, so that appropriate standards of risk and response are maintained.

The DCT combines live status and AVL location data from CAD with historical demand and risk profiles.  This is used to calculate a real-time picture of current coverage and areas of high/low risk, however it cannot automatically consider the effect of future changes to the availability of resources. The potential drawbacks of this are:

1. Retained personnel can be scheduled to go off-duty, causing understaffing at their station and an increase in risk levels. While fully predictable, these problems are only visible in the DCT when they are already fully in effect.
2. Vice versa, performing an unnecessary standby move when a crewing deficiency at an RDS station is predicted to be resolved imminently.

Assessing risk and coverage therefore needs multiple data sources to take a proactive approach to monitor and maintain a high level of service delivery to the community.  One potential source is the Resource Management System, in which the schedules and rotas of firefighting personnel is managed; this must be flexible and reliable.

Predict and avoid understaffing

FireServiceRota is a flexible and reliable Resource Management System for retained and wholetime firefighters, making it possible to detect and prevent understaffing before it occurs, and informing Fire Control when availability will be restored.

FireServiceRota’s availability planning allows retained firefighters to schedule their intended rota, and to make exceptions if needed.

The software continuously monitors for crew availability based on the skills needed to operate different appliances. If the system detects (imminent) lack of a certain skills, it automatically asks unavailable members with the missing skills to become available.

In other words, FireServiceRota makes crewing levels highly predictable. This creates an opportunity to provide the DCT with information about predicted resource availability, instead of only real-time.

Preparation is better than reaction

The integration of DCT with FireServiceRota will allow Fire & Rescue Services not only to react to real time issues in coverage, but also to proactively detect cover shortages, allowing Control Rooms to prevent and prepare for reductions in coverage.

The integration will also allow authorities to predict when a station will be back in service, preventing unnecessary relocation of resources that would potentially put other regions at risk.

By planning and preparing for dynamic crewing levels using DCT and FireServiceRota, Fire & Rescue Services will possess ultimate control over their available resources, allowing them to deploy these in the most effective and efficient ways possible.

ORH achieves standards ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 27001:2013 certification from the British Assessment Bureau

ORH has achieved certification to the internationally recognised ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 27001:2013 standards, following an independent assessment conducted by the British Assessment Bureau. This certification confirms ORH’s continued commitment to customer service and quality in delivery, and also to keeping our data, staff and premises secure.

ORH has now earned the right to display the coveted British Assessment Bureau quality shield and ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 27001:2013 logos to demonstrate our conformance to the standards.

ISO 9001 was first introduced in 1987 and requires organisations to prove that they do what they say they do, and that they have a Quality Management System in place to ensure consistency and improvement; leading to high levels of performance and customer satisfaction. Certified organisations are committed to continuous improvement and are regularly assessed to ensure that progress is being maintained.

ISO 27001 is the internationally recognised Information Security Management Standard that proves an organisation’s commitment to the security of their customer, employee and shareholder information. With ISO 27001 in place, ORH is able to minimise risks to potential data security breaches and reduce errors and costs, while demonstrating credibility and trust.

ORH has over 30 years’ experience within emergency service planning, setting the benchmark with a proven approach combining rigorous scientific analysis and experienced, insightful consultancy.  Achieving the certification recognises our commitment to getting it right, for the good of our clients and the people who rely on their services.

ORH secures Fire Service Review in British Columbia

Having completed a major review of metropolitan ambulance cover in Greater Vancouver in 2014/15, ORH is excited to be back in British Columbia, this time to undertake a review for City of Richmond Fire-Rescue. The review requires in-depth analysis of the current service profile, before going on to model the optimum deployment of resources to meet current and future (10-year) projected demand. ORH’s detailed modelling approach uses demand, workload and geography to simulate potential options for change. The work is due to be completed by the end of November 2017.

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