Project image map

Firefighters in Drenthe use verifiable credentials to find volunteers that can assist in emergencies.

When every second counts, emergency responders could use all the help they can get. Animo is building a pilot solution that gives trained volunteers the possibility to assist in emergency situations while the police, ambulance or firefighters are on their way.

Together with the fire department of Safety Region Drenthe, the 112 emergency dispatch innovation centre (LMS) will take the first steps in testing out the practical implications of a new tool for emergency responders. Using a new privacy-first protocol to locate volunteers, dispatch centre staff members will be able to ask a citizen with the right qualifications to assist in an incident. Volunteers can share vital information about the area, or take action, depending on what is needed and what they are qualified to do.

As 112 emergency calls get answered at the call centre, staff members act as quickly as possible to get quality information about the situation and send the right services to the right location. A lot can happen in the time between a 112 emergency call and the arrival of emergency services. Especially in more rural areas, it can still take too long for responders to arrive at the scene of an incident. And although it is getting easier to collect and manage information, there are still a lot of unknown factors when responders arrive. The input or intervention of people close by could prove critical to the success of an emergency responder.

Using this new protocol, dispatch staff members can send out a request for qualified volunteers. They do this in much the same way they now manage the responders and the information flow surrounding an emergency incident. When a staff member feels an incident could benefit from a qualified volunteer on the scene, they simply request one. The protocol checks for volunteers that are close by and have the right qualifications that the emergency situation requires. Qualifications can be any provable skill, like CPR, BHV or even flying drones. The location of a volunteer is approximate, and only gets shared after the volunteer has been selected and has agreed to assist in the incident. The dispatch centre’s staff member can specify exactly what they’d like the volunteer to help with, for example crowd management or getting a good view of how a fire engine can best get to a difficult location.

Animo will work as a tech partner to develop the solution for this collaboration. According to co-founder of Animo Ana Goessens: “When dealing with these types of incidents, you want to make sure a volunteer is not only willing but also able to act in a helpful manner. That’s why digital verifiable credentials offer such a great alternative to more difficult to trust verification of documents like PDF qualifications “. The solution will first be developed as a Proof of Concept with the assistance of actual emergency responders and call centre staff. The first batch of volunteers will be off-duty professionals, allowing emergency responders that are qualified but aren’t on duty to still respond to an incident.

Do you have volunteer experiences you want to share, or want to get involved with the project in another way? Reach out to as the project lead.