Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Have you downloaded the ‘What3Words’ app yet? It could help you in an emergency..

Have you heard of ‘What 3 Words‘?  You may have already downloaded the app? Emergency Service personnel around the country are raving about how important and vital this app is.

But, what exactly is it?  Using three-word addresses it gives callers a simplified method to describe exactly where assistance is required and allows emergency services to despatch their asset (fire appliance, ambulance, Coastguard, Search and Rescue team, police vehicle etc) straight to the scene of the incident.  Wasting valuable time trying to locate a person who is in urgent need of help could result in literally life or death.

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Photo credit: What2Words

What3words‘ is a British company who have divided the globe into three metres by three metre squares and given each square a unique three word address for example – ///prove.bids.deny, will take you to  Ramsgate Lifeboat Station.

 

The app is free to download for Apple and Android or by browser and works offline.  Hence making it ideal for use in rural or remote areas and where there is inconsistent data coverage. The three word format is also available worldwide and in twenty six different languages.

You may argue that the UK is already covered by the postcode system and street names are prominent in the majority of areas.  However, some postcodes cover a wide area and the same street name may crop up several times in one town or city.

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Emergency Service call handlers can send people who ring them an SMS message that contains a link to the what3words map, where they can see their location and immediately read the corresponding three-word address.   BT, EE and Plus Net mobile customers can find their what3words address without using any of their data via a link the emergency call handler will send them during the call.

It has recently been adopted by the British Transport Police, Police Forces in Avon and Somerset, Humberside and West Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Services.

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What 3 Words can be effective for emergency calls in sparseley populated locations such as at the beach, coastal areas, moors or farmland where it can be very challenging to communicate a location without any address or points of reference nearby.

One Fire Service call handler told us that she quite often has callers in a rural area describe their location by the colour of farm gates or the name of the farmer believing that they were speaking with the nearest fire station.

This new innovative location technology will help get help quickly to the correct location.  Another example was the app was used to locate a group of walkers who got lost in a dense wood in County Durham during August.

Chris Sheldrick, co-founder and CEO of what3words, said: “Being in need of urgent help and not being able to easily describe where you are can be very distressing for the person involved and a really difficult situation for emergency services.  “Today, people nearly always have their phone on them.  We need to use the tools at our disposal to improve public services and potentially save lives.”

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The app has also been adopted by groups and individuals to map treasure hunts and meeting places.  As well as the serious nature of the app it can be good fun too. For example the front door to Downing Street is //slurs.this.shark

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Save locations that you regularly walk or run

Why not find out the ‘what3words’ of nearby location’s where you go for a walk or run so you can save their locations in case you need them in the future.

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National Maritime Operation Centre (NMOC) HM Coastguard

Emergencies at the coast?

Coastguard Operation Rooms across the UK can access ‘What 3 Words’ as part of a suite of tools to locate those in distress. There isn’t always mobile phone coverage at sea, so carry a VHF radio or Personal Locator Beacon as well to call for help.  The RNLI Operations Room at their headquarters in Poole have said….. “What3Words is a brilliant tool which can save lives particularly in area’s such as beaches where reference points are hard to find.  We would always encourage use of established systems and would hope casualty reports are given using map/chart references whenever possible”….

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What3Words logo

Can you find these locations using the App?

//action.mile.paper

///token.crowned.await

///cape.admits.slim

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Kent Fire and Rescue Appliance

Useful links

Three-unique words ‘map’ used to rescue mother and child – BBC

Download the Apple What3Words App

Download the Android What3Words App

BTP Lancashire successfully use What 3 Words App to locate vulnerable person

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RNLI Flood Rescue vehicle pictured alongside the Margate All Weather Lifeboat photo credit: A Mills

Acknowledgements

What3Words

Greenock Coastguard Team

National Fire Chief’s Council

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service

HM Coastguard

Kent Search and Rescue (KSAR)

Happy Birthday to the ‘999’ system

Ever wondered how the ‘999’ Emergency telephone system came about? Well it’s the 82nd anniversary of the World’s first emergency system, today Sunday 30th June.  Here is a video illustrating the start of the service in 1937:

It first saw service in the London area. The system was introduced following a fire in a house in Wimpole Street on 10 November 1935, in which five women were tragically killed. A neighbour attempted to telephone the fire brigade and was so outraged at being held in a queue by the Welbeck telephone exchange that he wrote a letter to the Times Newspaper Editor, which prompted a government inquiry.

The initial scheme covered a twelve mile radius around Oxford Circus in London and the public were advised only to use it in ongoing emergency if  “for instance, the man in the flat next to yours is murdering his wife or you have seen a heavily masked cat burglar peering round the stack pipe of the local bank building”.  The first arrest for burglary took place a week later and the scheme was extended to major cities after World War II and then to the whole UK in 1976.

One of our key safety messages that we share when out and about is “do you know who to call in a coastal emergency?’ Over half the people we speak to unfortunately don’t know to call the Coastguard via ‘999’ if they hear or see a person or animal in danger at the coast.   So, with the Summer already upon us and the increase in people visiting the coast we are asking everyone to dial ‘999’ straight away if they are in any doubt whatsoever that someone or an animal is in difficulty in the water at the coast.