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Enhanced Status Monitoring

We’re pleased to announce that we now offer enhanced monitoring for Connect Rocket applications. This improved service offers the same real-time feedback on core components of our infrastructure that you’re used to but also includes the option to receive proactive notifications about outages that could impact your operations.

You can check the status of Connect Rocket at any time by visiting status.connectrocket.com. To sign up for alerts by text or email, simply select ‘Subscribe to Updates’ from this page or visit: status.connectrocket.com/subscribe and provide the requested information.

We hope you find this update valuable.

Feature Highlight: Duty Manager

Over the last several years, the number of features in Connect Rocket Teams has grown and several have seen enhancements. While we’ve done our best to share updates on these changes, we know it’s not always easy to keep up given our busy lives. With this in mind, this will be an ongoing series of posts to help keep everyone up to speed on enhancements that we’ve undertaken.

When Duty Manager was first introduced, it offered basic functionality. Users could move ‘on’ or ‘off’ duty via a text message or email into the application. In an ‘off’ duty state, the user did not need to worry about being interrupted by calls or texts. The feature got the job done but left the less conscientious at risk of forgetting to move back ‘on’ duty at some future point.

Early this year, we enhanced the natural language processing power of Duty Manager. These enhancements make texting more natural but also addressed the risk of forgetting to return from an ‘off’ duty state. Below are a few examples of how you could start using Duty Manager today.

As an example you can text the following to your Connect Rocket account number:

“Off Duty for 3 hours”
Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you are ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty date/time. In three hours, Connect Rocket will message you when you are automatically placed back ‘On Duty’.

“Off Duty until Friday”
Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you are ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty time. On the next instance of ‘Friday’, Connect Rocket will message you when you are automatically placed back ‘On Duty’.

“Off Duty until tomorrow at 4PM”
Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you are ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty date/time. The following day, Connect Rocket will message you when you are automatically placed back ‘On Duty’.

“Off Duty until April 15, 2018 at 10AM” or “Off Duty until Apr 15 at 10AM”
Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you are ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty time. On April, 15, 2018 at 10:00AM Connect Rocket will message you when you are automatically placed back ‘On Duty’

Notes:
If you do not include a time, Connect Rocket will place you back on duty on the requested day at the default ‘On Duty’ time. This default time can be changed by an account Administrator in your account settings.

If you do not specify a year, that Connect Rocket will assume the next instance of a date.

If you override an existing duty state with a new request to Duty Manager, the application will let you know and replace the previous Duty State with the most recent one.

Well, that’s a little update on Duty Manager. We hope you find it useful.

New Duty Manager Enhancements

Emergency services is somewhat unique in that even when off duty some members still want to know what’s happening. At the same time, other members want to be left in peace when going off shift. We built Duty Manager specifically to meet this need.

In it’s initial release, Duty Manager provided simple but powerful capabilities, allowing Contacts to move ‘On’ and ‘Off Duty’ via a text message. When in an ‘Off Duty’ state Contacts receive no calls or messages from Connect Rocket and can remain uninterrupted. When ready to receive notifications again, a simple text message of ‘On Duty’ restores call and message delivery.

“Nobody wants the job of managing duty status for a large team. With Duty Manager, members can sort themselves out.”

Recently we launched an enhanced version of Duty Manager that makes an already great feature more powerful and convenient. Now you can move ‘Off Duty’ and schedule your return to an ‘On Duty’ state at a future date/time – all from a single text. Now you won’t forget to move back on duty at the right time.

Below are a few common scenarios that might be familiar. Leveraging Duty Manager’s enhanced natural language processing makes this easier than ever.

Stepping off shift for a few hours to attend a function at your child’s school?

Text “Off Duty for 3 hours” to your Connect Rocket phone number. Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you’re ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty date/time. In three hours, Connect Rocket will message you when you’re automatically placed back ‘On Duty’.

Coming off shift and not back on until your next one starts later in the week?

Text “Off Duty until Friday at 7AM” to your Connect Rocket phone number.

Connect Rocket will respond letting you know that you’re ‘Off Duty” and confirming your return to duty time. On Friday at 7AM local time, Connect Rocket will message you when you’re automatically placed back ‘On Duty’

 

Missing part of a 4-day work block due to a cold?

Text “Off Duty until tomorrow at 7AM” to your Connect Rocket phone number.

or perhaps you’re…

Taking an extended holiday leave?

Text “Off Duty until March 15, 2018 at 10AM” or “Off Duty until Mar 15 at 10AM” to your Connect Rocket phone number.

Yep. You guessed it. Duty Manager will take you off duty and send you a text when you move back on duty in the future.

Of course Account Administrators can continue to manage duty status via the application interface and will always retain ultimate control over who is on or off duty and manually moving on and off duty with two separate text messages still works the same as before.

Thanks for following along and a huge hat tip for all the input along the way. This enhancement was a direct result of your feedback and ideas.

Cheers,
– The Connect Rocket Team

Use Roll Call to get your response off to a strong start.

Roll Call is a great feature we delivered a couple of years ago that allows your members to respond to messages they receive from Connect Rocket. You members can respond to Roll Call via a simple text message or using their telephone keypad. That means your members don’t need an app, a username or a password to use Roll Call – they just need to be able to send a text message or punch a number on their telephone keypad. This makes using Roll Call simple, safe and fast.

As with all of our features, Roll Call has been built in a way that allows tremendous flexibility with implementation. We have customers that use Roll Call to obtain immediate insight into which of their members are responding to calls. Using Roll call in this manner allows senior personnel to deal with more pressing issues while Connect Rocket aggregates all of the responses in the early stage of an incident. When it’s convenient to check on available resources, a quick look at the Roll Call yields critical information on member availability.

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Roll Call is also used to do status checks on members on a periodic basis and can be used for polling your members. There’s no one way to use Roll Call and our customers are constantly finding new and innovative ways to improve their operations with this great feature.

If you’re not using Roll Call, connect with us and we’ll show you how your organization can benefit from this great tool.

Maximize your conference calls

Conference Calls are incredibly valuable in the early stages of an emergency incident. They provide a forum to quickly share incident details, to devise an appropriate response and to assign responsibility. Doing this early can have a material impact on the outcome of an incident.

The above said, thinking that hosting a conference call with a bunch of Type A personalities is simple and that common sense will prevail, can leave many groups struggling to get through a call. Audio quality is often poor due to background noise, people talk over one another and the call lacks a clearly identified purpose and call leader.

A good conference call is a work of art. Planned, practiced and perfectly executed. Here’s how you can make you conference calls work.

Best Practices

  • Think of a conference call as simplex communication. It only works well when one person is talking – luckily we all know how to use two-way radios.
  • If you cannot respond to a call, either do not answer the inbound call or join the conference, mute your phone and remain silent unless you have something critical to add or your input is requested.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and move to a quiet area if possible. If there’s background noise where you are, mute your phone if you are not speaking. Even a small amount of background noise fed through a few open phone lines will degrade call quality for everyone.
  • Appoint an individual to ‘Chair’ the conference call. This person is in charge of all aspects of the call. Ideally this role would be assigned in advance but could be established at the beginning of a call.
  • Use the third person when speaking. Say “Fred is available to respond.” rather than “I’m available”. This prevents confusion for the ‘Chair’ and other call participants.
  • Take roll call and set the tone. With Connect Rocket, you know who is expected to join a call. A few seconds after a call begins, the ‘Chair’ should take roll call. This is far more effective than people announcing themselves and stepping on each others toes.
  • If you need to excuse yourself from a call, do not place the conference call on hold if your phone has a hold option that includes music. This will obviously degrade the call for remaining participants. Instead, mute your phone or hang up and re-join the conference when you can.

In Action

While the below example is simple and may not replicate how you use Connect Rocket, it shows the power of a little preplanning, practice and organization.


Chair: This is Dave. This is a call to discuss a response to the hazardous material incident at Highway 33 and Newport Road. I’m going to take roll call to get started.

Chair: Mike, are you on the line?

Mike: Mike’s here.

Chair: Deborah?

Deborah: Deborah’s here.

Chair: Ken?

Ken: Ken’s here.

Chair: Dave again. A quick overview for everyone. We have reports of an overturned ‘chemical’ truck on Highway 33 leaking a clear liquid onto the roadway and into a ditch. At this time, the vehicle and tank size is unknown, the cargo is also unknown. Tilbury fire is responding and police are enroute. Weather is clear, temperature is 25 degrees, winds are 15kph from the south. Unsure about proximity to homes or businesses. I’d like to activate the regional response team as a precaution and get resources staged for response. Does anyone object to this?

[silence]

Chair: Dave again. Mike, are you able to send the activation page out to team members?

Mike: Mike here. Yep, I can do that.

Chair: It’s Dave. Deborah, can you please follow up with local police and see if we can get hazmat placard info as soon as they are on scene? They’ll be on channel 32.

Deborah: Deborah can do that, yes.

Chair: Dave again. I’ll grab weather data and will interface with Tilbury Fire Dispatch for any additional details. Ken, you’ll be at the station first. Can you please pull up Roll Call on the bay monitor and brief the team?

Ken: Ken here. Will do.

Chair: Dave again. OK I’ll see you all shortly.

[End Call]


Practice

As emergency responders, Connect Rocket is no different than any other tool we have available to us. It requires regular pracice to keep skills sharp and is only as good as the effort we put into it. Review these best practices and train on Connect Rocket once ot twice each year to ensure you’re getting the most value possible from conference calls.