The Norwegian Red Cross chose UMS Group Alert System because of the system’s easy to use web based interface. Calling time has been reduced to a fraction of the time, and the person on duty is informed about how many will come and when they will arrive. The assembly of personnel for rescue operations has become a lot more effective.
The Norwegian Red Cross was founded in 1865 and has 133 000 members. The headquarters are in Oslo and in addition there are 19 district offices and 400 local units. Most of the staff are volunteer workers and have other jobs outside the organisation. The Red Cross local units are called in to assist the police in rescue operations in Norway and internationally. Each district has a 24/7 alarm telephone with direct access to the person on duty at the local unit. When the police or one of the two Norwegian joint rescue coordination centers calls the Red Cross alarm telephone in one of the districts, on duty personnel has to assemble the necessary units as quickly and efficiently as possible.
A manual and time consuming task
Before the UMS solution was adopted in 2003, the Norwegian Red Cross summoned people using a manual “phone tree” method. This meant that the person on duty manually called a number of people on a list, and they in turn had to call another one on their list and so forth. It was a very time consuming and frustrating task, seeing that the person on duty could not get the overall picture of how many were called, who they were and when they would arrive.
A new efficient system for assembling personnel
The Norwegian Red Cross chose the solution from UMS because of the system’s easy to use web based interface, which allowed administrators to quickly disseminate alerts. Each district office is set up with several departments for local units at each site. Each local unit has set up several groups consisting of people with different skill sets and backgrounds. Voice messaging is used primarily for urgent “call-in-the troops”, where volunteers must respond with their estimated meeting time. An SMS is then sent to relay more detailed information about the operation. However, in non-critical situations, SMS is used as a general tool for informing Red Cross members about non-critical tasks.
From phone tree method to effective group alerting
After the UMS Group Alert System was implemented, calling time was reduced to a fraction of the time it took to summon personnel previously. In addition, the person on guard could inform the police about how many would come and when they would arrive. This has been one of the factors in saving lives in several rescue operations.