Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls
Yesterday, one of our volunteers, Mark G, posted a very useful “Day/Night in the life of a Controller” on the SSBB Facebook Page. I think this is a great insight into what the controller role entails, so I have cut and pasted it into this blog posting! If you are wondering what a controller actually does and how they do it, then Mark’s summary is a great starting point!
A day/night in the life of a controller for Shropshire & Staffordshire Blood Bikes
Things you need:
A phone, a computer or pen and paper, that’s it
To be operationally the ‘go to’ person for everyone using our services (Hospitals riders etc), if your not sure of anything you can always call the on duty committee member who will be happy to help/advise
About 30 mins before taking on your shift call/text your rider(s) to ensure they are still available. Discuss things like the weather and any plans that may be out of the ordinary (such as splitting a run between Shrewsbury and Birmingham between two riders to keep the main rider in the area – overlapping if a second call is not ideal for either rider) and roughly how long it will take for them to get to the hospitals we serve (currently Princess Royal in Telford and Royal Shrewsbury hospital are the main ones) (ETAs).
If the weather is bad or one of your riders can’t do the shift for whatever reason, call the duty committee member (its on the rota) to discuss if you are going to run the entire service with just one bike or to suspend the service for the shift.
If your taking over from someone (at the weekends or bank holidays) call the on duty controller to find out if there are any calls outstanding or riders on any runs
Using the log in details given to you when you ‘sign up’ as a controller, log onto the SSBB gmail system and make sure you either have the call log window open on your PC (you can send it to sleep and it will still lfind it quicker, or you can make a desktop shortcut), or get a print out of the last page of the controllers flow chart (which in itself explains what to do) available on the gmail system (Both are now referred to as call log from this point).
If your taking over from someone else discuss with them when you should take over the number (instructions are within the gmail system) or if your doing a weekday night shift then just make sure your logged into the phone system by 7pm. The number the hospitals are given is a computer number and this is diverted to any phone number, can be either land or mobile.
Once your logged in sit back and enjoy what you normally do (please don’t get “gazeboed”).
Taking a call:
Identify that your SSBB (they normally tell you the hospital they’re calling from in their introduction too). Take down their name, hopsital calling and requesting (It can be different), whats to be collected and where it needs to be dropped off. Using ETAs discussed earlier try to give them a rough idea how long it should be until the rider gets to them.
Calling the rider:
You first need to work out how the run is to be done. Is it going to need one rider or two, or possibly even another blood bike group (this hasn’t happened yet with the SSBB to my knowledge) if its a long run out of our area into theirs.
You then call the rider and give them the details of the run: pick up, drop off and any other plans (such as a split run and discuss change over location and time) and they will give you the ETA at the pick up location. Rule of thumb is to send the closest rider to the pick up point, although this may not always be the case if the rider has already been dispatched for another job and you can’t call them (I know some have headsets in their helmets). Only dispatch the rider to another job when they’re on the road if they are on the way home or its a mirror job (same pick up and drop off point on the way to pick up, or from the drop off point if they’re on the way to the drop off point, so they just go from one job straight to another, but be careful of the time the rider has been on the road with both of these, fatigue is dangerous – a re-dispatch whilst on the road has happened once so far).
If its a split run call the second rider/other blood bike group and discuss the pick up time and final drop off point. Be aware not all blood bike groups operate the same hours we do, use their websites
Once the rider has been dispatched enter this into the box on the call log box and wait for the rider to get to the pick up point when they will text or call you. Then enter this time onto the call log too. They will also give you the eta of the drop off/change over and enter this into the call log too (these times are very important as will be made clear in a moment).
You then just wait for the drop off text/call and the ETA of the text when they get home. These times are very important as part of our duty of care to the riders and to track where they are. This helps us if anything should happen to them such as a breakdown in the middle of nowhere or an accident. Current practice is to wait 10-15 mins after the eta of any times before trying to call the rider (they may just be having a rest or filling up). If you cant get hold of them then call the duty committee member who discuss with you a plan of action.
Once you have received the Home text its just waiting for the next call!
I hope you find this useful. If you have any further questions about the role, or SSBB more generally, then do not hesitate to get n touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the form on the contact us page!