Throughout Australia, State Emergency Service (SES) units provide emergency assistance for storm or flood damage.
Although each unit is largely autonomous, with its own management structure, membership, training courses, communication system etc., they all have one common feature – their 132 500 number.
Whether in Cairns, Darwin, Perth, Tasmania or wherever, the SES can be rung on 132 500.
Wildlife Rescue Australia is attempting to emulate the SES model for native animals and to this end, has established a 24-hour, Australia-wide call centre capable of accepting over 1 million calls per annum. As many as 100 phone coordinators (PCs) can be rostered on at the same time.
Since commencing operations in 2013, the WRA Call Centre has answered over 98% of calls received, 95% of them within 25 seconds.
Native animal groups throughout Australia are invited to affiliate with WRA and to participate in this unique communication system. Whilst doing so, groups retain their own identity, phone number, membership, training, finances etc.
How to Affiliate
☆ To qualify for affiliation, a native animal group’s hotline (either landline or mobile) must be unblocked and used only for rescue calls, not personal calls.
☆ If the group’s phone number is a landline, it can be “ported” to AlphaNet Pty Ltd (the company in Melbourne which established the WRA Call Centre). Cost – $20. This is a once-off cost.
☆ If the number is a mobile, it is recommended the number be transferred to the cheapest possible plan which does not charge for call diversions. (Plans as cheap as $8.91 per month are available).
• The mobile number can then be diverted to a number provided by WRA.
☆ In either case, a charge of $5 per month is levied by AlphaNet, resulting in a monthly phone bill of $5 for landline numbers or $13.91 for mobiles. No charges are levied by WRA.
☆ A group affiliating with WRA can provide its own personalised welcome message to callers.
• For example, a group in SA has provided the message “Thank you for calling Save Our Wildlife Foundation. We partner with Wildlife Rescue Australia to provide a 24/7 wildlife rescue service”.
• For legal reasons, since all incoming calls are recorded, the message must also contain the statement “This call will be recorded for security and training purposes”).
Affiliates are asked to assist with answering calls by having a number of their members trained as WRA Phone Coordinators. The number is based on the estimated number of calls the group received each year.
A group receiving 4,000 calls p.a., for example, would be asked to provide 4 members, each available for 12 hours phone duty per week (or 6 members @ 8 hrs/wk etc).
Thus, a group previously providing a 24-hour emergency service and receiving 4,000 calls p.a. would have its phone duty commitment reduced from 7 x 24 = 168 hours per week to 48 hours – with the added advantage of having multiple PCs on duty.
Phone coordinators are required to join WRA (no membership fee) and complete a probationary training period. No costs are incurred.
Note: Phone coordinators are home-based and are rostered on in 4 hour shifts.
How Calls are Processed
PCs use unique, inhouse software (MapMaker) to:
• log incoming calls;
• draw a Google-type map for each call;
• make outgoing calls to rescuers, carers etc;
• communicate with rescuers, carers, groups etc via email or text messaging;
• resolve calls; and
• forward call reports to affiliates.
Below is an example of an actual call, processed for an affiliated group – Save Our Wildlife Foundation Inc (SOWFI) in SA. The call was from a vet clinic to the SOWFI hotline (redirected to WRA), requesting that a possum be picked up.
When the PC (Mary Smith) answered the call :
• the call record (with CallID 9725) was created automatically;
• the date, time, caller’s phone number and other data were then entered automatically;
• SOWFI’s name appeared automatically in the “Call from” field, so the PC answering the call was made aware the call had been redirected.
The caller’s name, animal locality, animal group and call notes are entered manually (based on information provided by the caller), following which a Rescue Map can be drawn.
At this stage, only SOWFI members are shown on the Rescue Map
Any of the rescuers (cyan) or carers (green) can be phoned simply by clicking the phone number in the appropriate balloon.
If no member of the affiliated group can be found to accept the call, members of another group may be contacted.
Until then, the call is considered to be the affiliate’s “property”.
Obviously, for a PC to be able to contact an affiliate’s members, they should be registered with WRA.
Whenever a call is received from an affiliate, a copy of the call record is emailed automatically to the affiliate when a PC enters an outcome in the Call Notes.
This record includes:
• a Call ID;
• date call received;
• time call received (local);
• caller’s first name and phone number;
• animal’s address;
• animal group; and
• call notes (made by PCs).
Records are sent in .csv format, allowing them to be imported readily into either a spreadsheet or database.
A one-month free trial can be arranged upon request
☆ Groups wishing to:
• request a trial affiliation;
• arrange a demonstration of the MapMaker software; or
• discuss affiliation with WRA
should contact the MapMaker Administrator.
To affiliate with Wildlife Rescue Australia, please complete this form.