it is well documented, now more than ever, that emergency services staff work in an extremely challenging environment and are not only just frequently exposed to traumatic events but they face scenarios on a daily basis that the majority of people would find difficult to deal with.
There is a great deal of pride in public service which motivates our staff to put themselves in harm's way (be that physical or emotional) on a daily basis, and leadership at every level of every emergency service must acknowledge this and ensure that staff are supported, recognised and valued for the work that they do.
In recognition of this, via the National Fire Chiefs Council, every Fire and Rescue Service across the UK now has access to Oscar Kilo and the Blue Light Wellbeing Framework.
Originally launched across UK policing last year, Oscar Kilo (OK) was created to provide a home for evidence based resources that were specific to the emergency services. It provides support and guidance for those responsible for wellbeing in each service to assist them in developing and building robust, efficient and effective wellbeing support.
It hosts the Blue Light Wellbeing Framework which has been written specifically to cater for the unique needs of the emergency services. It was written by a leading academic in police wellbeing, Dr Ian Hesketh, and is grounded in learning from across the services, academia and Public Health England.
Oscar Kilo allows services access to an interactive version of the Blue Light Wellbeing Framework allowing them to complete a self-assessment of their organisations current wellbeing provision, benchmark themselves and conduct a gap analysis so they can see where there might be room for improvement. They can then request a facilitated peer review to ensure that evaluation is transparent and fair.
To help support and guide services in developing the wellbeing provision, each of the six areas of the framework are reflected in the resources section of the Oscar Kilo website allowing services to find the research, news and resources that are relevant to help them build on the work they are already doing to support their staff.
Oscar Kilo also hosts online practitioner communities encouraging the sharing of learning and best practice amongst those on the ground delivering these services day in day out.
Oscar Kilo and the Blue Light Wellbeing Framework were launched across the Police Service in summer 2017 and not only has every police force across England, Wales and Northern Ireland signed up but we also provide resources for other policing and government bodies as well.
Chief Constable Andy Rhodes said; "Over the past five years we have developed a significant amount of work around wellbeing in policing and have made great strides in ensuring that wellbeing gets to the top of the leadership agenda. Oscar Kilo is the latest milestone in this journey and we wanted to use what has proved to be a really successful online platform in policing with other services.
"Police and Fire and Rescue services share a lot of the same experiences and there is a great deal we can learn from each other. We want to encourage the sharing of learning and best practice across services so that we can build a world class level of support for our staff who do an amazing job day in day out, keeping the public safe from harm.
"We have a huge amount to do if we are to reassure our frontline that the service is committed to picking them up when they struggle with their mental and physical health but we have huge support from across the emergency services family to ensure this happens."
Chief Fire Officer Ian Hayton, lead for wellbeing for the NFCC said; "The wellbeing of our staff is of paramount important to us. People working across the fire service often face stressful and difficult conversation and it is essential we are offering staff support and help to ensure their wellbeing at all times.
"While we have a number of services in place with regard to our occupational health provisions, this new partnership with Oscar Kilo will enhance this and offer additional services. The Bluelight Wellbeing Framework has already proved successful in other emergency services and we are looking forward to working with Oscar Kilo and offering employees and organisations additional support. Shared learning is key for fire and rescue services, along with other emergency services."
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd MP said; "Our emergency services do an incredible job - fighting crime, protecting the vulnerable, and rescuing those in danger - and I am determined to ensure our police officers and firefighters have the wellbeing support they need.
"Policing has made great strides in improving the welfare provision for officers and staff, and I'm delighted that fire and rescue services will now benefit from access to these resources.
"The Government takes this issue very seriously, and we have awarded £7m since 2014 to Mind to provide targeted support for members of the emergency services."