The value of high-quality call reports to gain insight after an incident

The value of high-quality call reports to gain insight after an incident
27 September 2022

Chris Sowden, Head of Emergency Response Team at NCEC, received a call report that had been sent by another emergency response organisation to a speciality chemicals manufacturer following an incident. The report contained the product involved in the incident and the full report stated: 

‘[The caller] got the product in their eyes. Instructions were given accordingly.’

Chris was surprised by the lack of information about the incident and it left him with many questions. It reaffirmed to him why best practice in telephone emergency response is vital, including the importance of high-quality emergency response call reports and the difference in having insight on the incident in post-incident reporting. Without this, product owners would not be able to apply the lessons learnt and prevent or manage future incidents. Chris wanted to share with us what he would expect to be included in a high-quality call report:

What does a high-quality emergency response call report look like? 

In this instance, had NCEC been the response organisation, our highly trained emergency responder would have gathered and recorded further details to not only be able to give proportionate and actionable advice to the caller in the first instance but also to produce a high quality, useful call report to share with the product owner. 

NCEC’s call report for a similar incident would include: 

What specifically happened

What is the context at the scene? Is the caller safe from further harm? What is the product? Was it mixed with anything else? How did the exposure happen? What is the scale of the incident, did a drop go into their eye, or was it a larger amount? Was the surrounding skin on the face affected?  How long ago did the incident happen, and what symptoms did the caller experience and are these ongoing or changing? Was anybody else exposed to the hazardous product? What action did they take before calling? How can we stop this from happening again?

The advice that was given

NCEC’s  advice is specific to the caller and the incident. Our call reports include the advice given, such as, first aid instructions including what these were and if the caller was advised to seek further medical advice or went to hospital. The advice we give differs by the scale of the incident, the available equipment and the surrounding environment.

How the incident ended

What was the outcome of the incident? What was the health status of the caller? Did they confirm they understood, and were implementing the advice? Are there outstanding actions for the product owner? Are there any open risks that may impact us? Do we need to involve insurance companies, PR or legal teams? Were they happy with the support and advice the emergency responder provided over the phone? 

How do we communicate the incident and call reports to our customers?

NCEC call reports are effectively split into 3 sections. Firstly, the key 'logistical' details on the call and the incident, including details such as timings, contact details for the caller, product(s) involved etc. The second part is a high-level summary of the incident and advice provided, which aims to provide the reader with signposts to the key aspects of the call. Thirdly we provide full details on all information provided by the caller, the advice we gave and any further notification calls that were carried out. This section aims to provide a concise report of all call details so that the reader is as well informed as our emergency responder who handled the call.

Why are high quality and detailed call reports so important?

The call report we received from another emergency response provider did not give give enough detail for the product owner to determine what action, if any, that they needed to take after the incident.

Imagine if the scale of the incident had been larger, with a more complex risk profile. For example, a tanker collision resulting in a fire, with potential significant injury to the driver, and the incident had attracted media and legal attention, and the call report had simply stated:

‘A tanker containing [product] was on fire on the highway. Instructions were given accordingly.’

As the distributor or the product owner involved in this incident, you would have had fundamental questions to understand more about the incident (for example where it had occurred, had anyone been  injured, what had happened etc.), and to understand the quality of the response given to the caller, as well as the capability of your emergency response arrangements to deal with the incident.

Our main focus during emergency calls is to provide proportionate, actionable advice that will help to safely bring the incident to a close and mitigate any further impacts. However, the call isn’t over until we have provided our customers with the data they require through our detailed call reports, which include a clear description of the incident and the advice we provided.

High quality emergency call reports are fundamental not only to an organisation’s internal policies and procedures but can also support an organisation’s continuous improvement plans. Call reports can support this through:

  • Helping the customer determine what action, if any, needs to be taken following the incident (e.g. follow up contact with user of the product or raise competence level of on-site staff with training).
  • Forming part of the evidence needed for insurance claims.
  • Informing root cause analysis which can then be used to minimise the risk of a similar incident happening again and to ensure lessons learned are incorporated into future incident response plans.
  • Giving an indication of how the product is being used or abused in the real world.
  • Providing a measure on the effectiveness of the outsourced emergency response provider.

Recommendations

To ensure that you benefit from insight following an incident, we recommend that you review the processes that you have in place, taking into consideration the below questions:

  • Do you know whose responsibility it is, if anyone’s, to produce emergency response call reports following an emergency response call?
  • If using your staff to answer emergency response calls, is there a clear and consistent method to record key details of the call?
  • Do you review emergency response call reports to understand if your staff, distributors or customers need further assistance and communications to safely handle your products?
  • Do you log details of an emergency response call to identify any patterns occurring where changes could be made to prevent future incidents?
  • If you are using a third-party emergency response call service, do the reports have enough data that allows you to understand what has occurred, what advice has been provided and if you need to take further action?

Why choose NCEC as your emergency response partner?

You want to be notified each time your products or stakeholders are involved in an incident involving chemicals. We offer a bespoke emergency response service that is shaped around your requirements, this includes supporting you with a bespoke reporting process. We make sure the report includes details of the scene, the context and what action was taken and will be sent to appointed contacts, after we have handled the incident call.

You want to receive incident reports that can feed into your continuous improvement programmes. For our emergency responders to provide advice to callers, detailed information must be gathered in order for the emergency responder to understand the full scope of the incident. This includes why, where and how the incident occurred. Having access to specific information on the incident allows organisations to use these insights to drive improvements to reduce the risk of similar incidents occurring in the future.

You need an emergency response provider who is able to answer any questions you may have about the incident whenever you need them. We operate a service that is available 24/7, 365 days of the year, not only to callers at the scene of an incident, but also to our customers. If you have any questions about a recent incident we responded to, you can speak to one of our emergency responders who will be able to answer your questions related to the incident.

NCEC provides a market leading telephone emergency response service, not only because of the high-quality advice we provide to callers at the scene of an incident, but also, because of the support we offer as part of our emergency response service, such as our detailed call reporting. To find out how NCEC can support your organisation by providing a telephone emergency response service that provides advice, and offers detailed post incident insights in call reports, contact us using the form on this page.