An Escalation Contact is a person, usually a lone worker’s colleague, who is given the responsibility to be the first line of support for a lone worker in the event of an emergency when it is not appropriate to call the emergency services.
Why Do We Need Escalation Contacts?
Escalation Contacts are a vital part of lone worker safety.
They are usually the manager or close colleague of a lone worker and are often best placed to quickly get to the lone worker or know where they are.
They can help us close down false alerts and keep the lines free for genuine red alerts, and they can reduce the burden on the emergency services by clarifying if they are genuinely needed, providing information to them if they are, or administering first aid in the event of minor accidents.
For example, if a lone worker in a factory hurts themselves, an escalation contact will be closer at hand and able to provide first aid or call a first aider faster than the ambulance can get there.
Or, the ambulance may not need to be dispatched at all if the escalation contact can administer first aid and the injury is not too severe.
Another example of when an Escalation Contact is vital is in the case of a false alert. False alarms make up a substantial portion of all the red alerts that come into the Alarm Receiving Centre. We never assume an alert is false, but there are some indicators that suggest it might be. Being able to phone an escalation contact when we can’t make contact with the user is a quick and easy way to be able to close down false alerts and free the resources up to deal with genuine alerts.
What Is the Role of An Escalation Contact?
The main functions of an Escalation Contact are:
- To assist in closing down false alerts
- To liaise with the lone worker’s emergency contacts or supervisors
- To contact to the lone worker by another means to establish their circumstances
- To provide comfort and/or first aid to the lone worker
- To provide vital information to the emergency services that the Alarm Receiving Centre operator does not know
An Escalation Contact is a very important role.
When a lone worker triggers an alert, it may not always be the correct course of action for the police or ambulance to be called.
In these circumstances, an Escalation Contact will be called.
The Escalation Contact should know where the lone worker is likely to be and what tasks they are likely to have been carrying out, which will enable them to assess the risk.
For example, if the escalation contact knows the lone worker has been in the office all day doing admin, the alert is likely to be false.
However, if they know the lone worker has been conducting one to one drug counselling interviews in a secluded office, the risk increases.
Knowing this information could save a life.
In the event of a person’s location not being known, an Escalation Contact can liaise with the next of kin to establish where the lone worker is.
Who Can Be an Escalation Contact?
The best escalation contacts work closely with the lone worker and are in a position to know their timetable or routine. They can also physically go to the lone worker if necessary.
It is important to think carefully about who should be an Escalation Contact, especially if you manage a team of remote workers located around the country.
Often, the user selects up to 4 escalation contacts who work closely with them in the same vicinity. Having several reduces the burden on any one person and ensures that someone is always contactable.
What Happens If I Am an Escalation Contact?
Being an Escalation Contact is a big responsibility, and not one that should be entered into lightly.
With luck, you will never have to deal with a genuine issue, but you should always be alert and ready to answer your phone when you know the lone worker is on shift.
If your phone does ring, it is important that you answer it, or call the Alarm Receiving Centre back, even if it is the middle of the night.
Once you have spoken to the operator you should attempt to contact the lone worker to confirm they are safe and well. If you are concerned about their safety, you should go to them, or rouse a colleague who can assist.
Hopefully it will be a false alarm and the worst thing is that you are irritated from being dragged out of bed. But if you didn’t go, and it was a genuine alarm, could you live with yourself?
You can also check out our FAQs for Escalation Contacts here.