London Ambulance fallback failure

Some readers may have seen the article in the London press about the London Ambulance Service having some problems with maintaining effective control during fallback when there was a fire in their control centre.

The fire was an electrical fire in a UPS.  The fire meant that operations had to move to the fallback control room in Bow.  However the report into the events revealed a number of failings in their procedures, when they got to the fallback control there were problems with glare on screens and problems with technical language being used in the control room that hampered communications.

Clearly operational effectiveness during this event were significantly degraded and LAS has learnt some harsh lessons including deciding to keep their fallback control room "live".

This event features many common issues for control centres when looking at fallback arrangements.
Many of these issues arise as a fallback control room is seen as a facility which is rarely used and therefore investment is made elsewhere.  As LAS perhaps found out, this is fine until you need it and find it doesn't work or doesn't work well enough.

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DESIGN AND THE HUMAN FACTOR: London Ambulance fallback failure

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

London Ambulance fallback failure

Some readers may have seen the article in the London press about the London Ambulance Service having some problems with maintaining effective control during fallback when there was a fire in their control centre.

The fire was an electrical fire in a UPS.  The fire meant that operations had to move to the fallback control room in Bow.  However the report into the events revealed a number of failings in their procedures, when they got to the fallback control there were problems with glare on screens and problems with technical language being used in the control room that hampered communications.

Clearly operational effectiveness during this event were significantly degraded and LAS has learnt some harsh lessons including deciding to keep their fallback control room "live".

This event features many common issues for control centres when looking at fallback arrangements.
  • The procedures for moving out and setting up the new control are rarely exercised or tested.  
  • The switching of the technology is not well designed to be reliable.
  • It is difficult to determine the duration of the fallback and therefore to what degree the fallback control room has to match the main control room functionality.
  • The fallback control room often suffers from a lower level of design - it's often not really designed at all.
Many of these issues arise as a fallback control room is seen as a facility which is rarely used and therefore investment is made elsewhere.  As LAS perhaps found out, this is fine until you need it and find it doesn't work or doesn't work well enough.

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