Control Room Awards celebrate hidden heroes of the emergency services


The unsung heroes of Britain’s blue light services have been honoured in the first national awards for control room staff.

The APD Control Room Awards 2018 celebrate the extraordinary and selfless contribution of behind-the-scenes staff who play a critical role in the response to emergency incidents day in and day out, often dealing with harrowing and distressing situations.

 APD Managing Director Mike Isherwood

APD Managing Director Mike Isherwood

Among those recognised 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 June 16, 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 fund-raising 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.
  • 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.

Also recognised as part of the Control Room Awards was Danny Herbert, who at just seven years old has spent time across the force at Sussex Police - including as a radio controller. Danny has always wanted to be a policeman and has not allowed his heart condition to stop his dream from coming true.

His colleagues nominated Danny for the Dispatcher of the Year, and the judges were delighted to crown him with an honorary award in this category - highly commending his work and bravery.

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.

Barry Zielinski, telent’s General Manager, Public Safety & Defence, said: “Congratulations to all the winners and the nominees for representing public service at its very best.

 Sanchez Singh, winner of the Award for Services to the Public

Sanchez Singh, winner of the Award for Services to the Public

“It has been an honour and a privilege for telent to be involved in these awards and to be part of such an emotional and uplifting awards ceremony.”

The full list of APD Control Room Awards 2018 winners is below. 

Award for Services to the Public, sponsored by telent

Winner: Sanchez Singh, Greater Manchester Police

Shortlisted: Alison Brenton Bowes, Kent Police, and Daniel Smith, West Yorkshire Police

The judges said:

“Sanchez embodies the spirit of public service. He showed great commitment in giving 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 loved one. He also showed great care and compassion in supporting the vulnerable victim of honour-based violence.”

 

Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by APD Communications

Winner: Lyn Juby, London Fire Brigade

Shortlisted: Jules Lockett, London Ambulance Service, and Eddie McEvoy, West Yorkshire Police

The judges said:

“Lyn’s length of service with London Fire Brigade is remarkable, as is her contribution and lasting legacy. Despite her own personal health challenges, Lyn is a passionate representative and ambassador for London Fire Brigade. Recently she has performed a particularly challenging role in the Grenfell investigation, offering valuable support to call takers.”

Control Room Dispatcher of the Year

Winner: David (Edd) Redwood, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service

Shortlisted: Iain MacKay, Police Scotland, and Cheryl Skelly, Police Scotland

Honorary Dispatcher of the Year: Danny Herbert, Sussex Police - age 7

 Edd Redwood, Dispatcher of the Year 2018

Edd Redwood, Dispatcher of the Year 2018

The judges said:

“Edd demonstrated exceptional performance and collaboration with several services in the multi-agency management of a flash flooding situation that involved multiple incidents and locations. His calm and assured response to one call contributed to the saving of the life of an elderly lady trapped in rapidly-rising flood water.”

Leader of the Year

Winner: Philip Quickenden, Suffolk Police

Shortlisted: Tom Donohoe, West Yorkshire Police, and Jules Lockett, London Ambulance Service

The judges said:

“Philip is an inspirational leader who clearly values his staff greatly and gains their buy-in for his vision. We were hugely impressed by the initiatives he has led to promote staff development and wellbeing and to engage the public, including a Tweetathon of incident details which received an overwhelmingly positive response.”

Control Room Call Taker of the Year, sponsored by Sopra Steria

Winner: Leanne Ross, Police Scotland

Shortlisted: Lisa Canovan, Greater Manchester Police, and Samantha Seager, Metropolitan Police

The judges said:

“Leanne showed exemplary call-handling skills in dealing calmly and effectively with an extremely distressing and harrowing incident in which critical injuries had been inflicted by a suspect armed with a chainsaw. She was able to calm the caller down, direct her actions and extract from her the vital information needed to inform a rapid firearms response.”

Community Champion Award

Winner: Clive Hamilton, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service

Shortlisted: Usama Darr, Metropolitan Police, and Laura Harmer, Nottinghamshire Police

The judges said:

“Clive fulfilled all the criteria for this award, showing selfless commitment to the local community. His passion and pride as a volunteer for the British Red Cross Fire Emergency Support Service and the Lisburn Fire Cadets Programme have had an extraordinary impact on local people and their lives.”

Young Achiever of the Year, sponsored Seed Software

Winner: Melissa Starmer – Nottinghamshire Police

Shortlisted: Alicia Ledger, South Yorkshire Police, Mark Richardson, North East Ambulance Service and Chelsea Scarsbrook, Sussex Police

The judges said:

“The clear winner in this category, Melissa has played a proactive part in Nottinghamshire Police’s efforts to support the LGBT community and combat hate crime. Her work has increased the empathy of her colleagues with members of the LGBT community.”

Special Recognition for Bravery and Courage Award

Winner: Julie Burgess – Devon and Cornwall Police

Shortlisted: Nathan Moon, North West Ambulance Service, and Anthony Sutcliffe, West Yorkshire Police

The judges said:

“Julie showed phenomenal bravery in putting herself in imminent danger to single-handedly save the life of a young man threatening to throw himself from a bridge. Despite her own mobility issues and fear of heights, she went well above the call of duty to rescue a stranger in crisis, using her skills as an Enhanced Crisis Communicator.”

 The family of John Gilhooly who served in the Scottish Ambulance Service presenting awards to Jules Lockett and Adam Brewster

The family of John Gilhooly who served in the Scottish Ambulance Service presenting awards to Jules Lockett and Adam Brewster

John Gilhooly Unsung Hero Award

Dedicated posthumously to John Gilhooly who served in the Scottish Ambulance Service control room for almost 30 years.

Winner Jules Lockett – London Ambulance Service

Highly commended Adam Brewster – South Yorkshire Police

The judges said:

“Jules was nominated in a number of categories and is clearly hugely respected and admired. She is an inspirational leader who has carried out very important work on the mental wellbeing of control room staff and has made a lasting contribution on the issue of abusive callers.”

Team of the Year, sponsored by Red Box Recorders

Winner: London Fire Brigade (Two Watch)

Shortlisted: North West Ambulance Service (Broughton EOC Orange EMD Team), London Ambulance Service (Emergency Operations Centre) and British Transport Police (Force Control Room)

The judges said:

“Two Watch showed exceptional team spirit and extraordinary resilience while delivering an outstanding service in desperately difficult circumstances during the Grenfell Tower disaster. 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 judges were:

  • Mike Isherwood, Managing Director, APD Communications.
  • Chris Dreyfus-Gibson, Vice Chairman, International Critical Control Rooms Alliance (ICCRA).
  • Sue Noyes, former Chief Ambulance Officer and Chair of The Ambulance Staff Charity (TASC).
  • Cheryl Rolph OBE, former Assistant Chief Fire Officer and Director of Networking Women in the Fire Service. 
  • Ian Thompson, Chief Executive of British APCO (Association of Public Safety Communications Officials).
  • Barry Zielinski, General Manager, Public Safety & Defence, telent.

For further information on the APD Control Room Awards go to www.controlroomawards.com

Jane Cross