Our Fire and Rescue services are more hi-tech than you think

The UK’s fire and rescue services have to evolve with the times, like all our public services.

The Blue Light Innovation Conference in London this December will offer senior professionals from the fire and rescue and other emergency services the chance to address some of the major challenges that emergency services face. It will also explore how emerging technologies can be implemented to deliver first class blue-light services.

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) is a great example of a service that has embraced new technology to deliver first class services. LFRS has become a leading authority in the UK on using VR in emergency services training and accident prevention.

It has created a partnership with RiVR, a leading British developer of photorealistic virtual reality experiences, to use VR to train emergency staff and educate young people as part of its ‘Fatal Four’ road safety campaign.

Paul Speight, who is Watch Manager at LFRS, will be giving a keynote speech at the Blue Light Conference about virtual reality in emergency services training and accident prevention. His session will cover using VR goggles and specially produced film, to immerse participants in a pre and post-crash scenario. It will also cover developing virtual reality training to engage and influence the attitudes and behaviours of first responders and young people.

It’s also great to see other areas of innovation being covered in the conference, such as mental health in the workplace and adopting cloud-based technology for rapid emergency responses. Innovation is vital – but what about inclusion? The UK has an ageing, growing and diverse population. And this brings its own challenges for public services to ensure that different groups of people don’t face digital exclusion.

Digital exclusion occurs when people can’t access digital content online because of: disability, age, gender, language, socio-economic status, and geographic location, not just connectivity! For example, in London around one in five people don’t speak English as a first language but they still need to be able to access information about public services in a language they can understand.

And more than eleven million people in the UK have a disability, and they also need to access fire and rescue services online to do everything from read information about how to choose the right smoke alarms to look for flood advice.

The Recite Me toolbar lets visitors to your website customise your site the way they need it to work for them. It includes a host of tools like text to speech functionality and dyslexia software tools to help people with disabilities. And it can also translate written content into over 100 languages at the click of a button. There’s also the Recite Me website accessibility checker

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