• The vital link: keeping emergency services connected

The vital link: keeping emergency services connected

Co-ordination across all emergency services is the key to tackling any major incident quickly and effectively. But with pressure to do more with less, can investing in new technology really make a difference to the speed and efficiency of you and your colleagues’ response?

With smaller budgets and less personnel, emergency services are under significant pressure to create efficiencies whilst not only maintaining service, but also modernising to meet the changing demands of your communities. Collaborative working, including sharing knowledge and resource, is a core tactic that organisations are using to achieve this.

Fire and rescue, ambulance and police crews regularly train and prepare to handle a diverse range of incidents, where they will often work together to keep people safe and save lives. The right skills and the right tools are essential in these situations to enable efficient, rapid and safe joint working. 

One example of effective joint working during a major incident was the Windsor Castle fire where the well-practiced emergency drills helped save historically valuable paintings and artefacts, and the palace itself from further damage. Another instance is the major fire following an explosion at the Hertfordshire Oil Refinery Terminal, ‘The Buncefield fire’, the largest in Europe during peacetime. The emergency services co-ordinated efforts lead a safe evacuation of the area, brought the blaze under control, with no lives lost.

These examples demonstrate what we already know; the better we can work together, the more successful the outcomes.  So let’s look at how using new technology can enable even more efficient and collaborative working.


The scenario:

It’s 10pm and an incident is occurring, and the first 999 call comes into the dispatch centre.

Mary is the emergency call handler who takes the initial call. She’s using a Surface Pro 7 with the Surface Pen, to record details of the incident during the conversation. She quickly realises that this is a major incident and will require a wider response. She starts a call with her colleagues using the Microsoft Teams chat function advise them of the unfolding situation. Following the call she shares information to legacy apps so that other agencies can access them – even if they aren't using Microsoft 365


Naomi the station manager uses her Surface Book 2 and the functionality of Teams to set-up a virtual meeting with her peers in other emergency services, and OneDrive to share maps and plans of the area. Naomi’s team sets up an incident control room. To assist with information sharing they bring the Surface Hub 2 into the room. Naomi starts a session on the Surface Hub, connecting her to all the information she needs to share on the large screen, as well as giving her the ability to easily view and share live information with colleagues in other agencies, and on the ground.


Sam is the firefighter in charge of tackling the emergency and arrives at the scene already briefed with the information his colleagues have shared, all easily accessed on his ruggedised Surface Go. Other emergency services are already there thanks to Naomi and her team's efforts; the police have cordoned off the area and the ambulance service is standing by ready. The Surface Go’s LTE connectivity allows Sam to quickly check documents and establish whether there are any dangerous substances involved that the team should be aware of. He uses OneDrive to share his notes with colleagues in other services. He then live shares video of the incident from his Surface Go back to Naomi and her team in the incident control room, which they can use to further monitor and provide feedback on the situation as it progresses.


A few days later Naomi presents an analysis of the incident to the assistant commissioner, illustrating her findings with information shared on the day and still easily accessible within OneDrive.


This simplified scenario shows some of the ways teams in emergency services can use Surface devices to do more with shared information, improve collaboration and work more closely together.


Case study: Watch how Cheshire Police are utilising Surface to get closer to the community


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