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Volunteer Availability Sys.

VACS - Volunteer Availability Communications System

VACS is a web based system that manages the collection and dissemination of volunteer availability data in real time for organisations that rely on volunteers to provide services in critical times. Typical of such organisations are volunteer fire departments and brigades, coastguard and other emergency services.

VACS is a subscription based service in which individual members of a volunteer organisation are able to set up and change their availability status on line or via touch tone telephone or cellphone. Each individual is able to set up a profile which shows at which times of the day over a seven day period that he or she is going to be available to respond to callouts. At any time the volunteer is also able to call in on a phone and change their status manually.

VACS enables emergency and other volunteer based organisations to better manage their volunteer resources and to know when the availability of a service might be compromised through lack of available volunteers.

VACS communicates with both volunteers and the organisation critical personnel periods and is able to communicate through rules based profiles whether or not a particular unit is able to be turned out in response to a call. It is also able to communicate with volunteers to get them to reconsider their status if a unit has fallen below the critical manning level.

Background

As the world gets busier, industry and business rely more and more on utilising staff on call to respond to a work place or emergency. Being on call can be quite intrusive to family and social activities. Frequently staff on call complain that the current systems of swapping or managing this availability amongst colleagues is rigid and unnecessarily restrictive.

Managers are often reflecting that the management of on call staff is stressful, time consuming and a major contributing factor to difficulties in retaining staff. As processes become more sophisticated, the skills required by staff are more advanced which is being reflected in higher training costs. Retaining staff is therefore a major financial as well as Social consideration.

VACS was originally developed in response to the requirements of the NZ Fire Service which has approximately 450 volunteer based fire brigades nationally throughout NZ.

Fire Service Volunteers and in particular those in composite (combined Paid/Volunteer) brigades in provincial or metropolitan cities often work prohibitive distances from their stations. Chief Fire Officers often have difficulty with staffing or ensuring consistency of availability, skills and experience with the staffing of fire appliances.

Using current technology a volunteer firefighter may be available for some part of a day but because of the need for total reliability of response and the limited capability of the systems utilised, must choose to be unavailable for all of the day. Because this inconsistency is inherent in the system and does not always indicate that a crew is not available, the dispatcher may choose to dispatch a volunteer appliance to test their availability if other resources are unavailable. This can therefore delay the response from another (distant) or commit another appliance unnecessarily.

Contact Us for more information

To see VACS working please visit the working VACS website used by the NZ Fire Service below. A dummy volunteer login is available using the following data:

UserID: 111
Password: 111

Or download the demo data document.

www.vacs.co.nz