VACS - Volunteer
Availability Communications System
VACS is a web based system that manages the
collection and dissemination of volunteer availability
data in real time for organisations that rely
on volunteers to provide services in critical
times. Typical of such organisations are volunteer
fire departments and brigades, civil defence,
coastguard and other emergency services.
VACS is a subscription based service in which
individual members of a volunteer organisation
are able to set up and change their availability
status on line or via touch tone telephone or
cellphone. Each individual is able to set up
a profile which shows at which times of the
day over a seven day period that he or she is
going to be available to respond to callouts.
At any time the volunteer is also able to call
in on a phone and change their status temporarily.
VACS enables emergency and other volunteer
based organisations to better manage their volunteer
resources and to know when the availability
of a service might be compromised through lack
of available volunteers.
VACS communicates with both volunteers and
the organisation critical personnel periods
and is able to communicate through rules based
profiles whether or not a particular unit is
able to be turned out in response to a call.
It is also able to communicate with volunteers
to get them to reconsider their status if a
unit has fallen below the critical manning level.
As the world gets busier, industry and business
rely more and more on utilising staff on call
to respond to a work place or emergency. Being
on call can be quite intrusive to family and
social activities. Frequently staff on call
complain that the current systems of swapping
or managing this availability amongst colleagues
is rigid and unnecessarily restrictive.
Managers are often reflecting that the management
of on call staff is stressful, time consuming
and a major contributing factor to difficulties
in retaining staff. As processes become more
sophisticated, the skills required by staff
are more advanced which is being reflected in
higher training costs. Retaining staff is therefore
a major financial as well as Social consideration.
VACS was originally developed in response to
the requirements of the NZ Fire Service which
has approximately 450 volunteer based fire brigades
nationally throughout NZ.
Fire Service Volunteers and in particular those
in composite (combined Paid/Volunteer) brigades
in provincial or metropolitan cities often work
prohibitive distances from their stations. Chief
Fire Officers often have difficulty with staffing
or ensuring consistency of availability, skills
and experience with the staffing of fire appliances.
Using current technology a volunteer firefighter
may be available for some part of a day but
because of the need for total reliability of
response and the limited capability of the systems
utilised, must choose to be unavailable for
all of the day. Because this inconsistency is
inherent in the system and does not always indicate
that a crew is not available, the dispatcher
may choose to dispatch a volunteer appliance
to test their availability if other resources
are unavailable. This can therefore delay the
response from another (distant) or commit another
Contact Us for more
To see VACS working please visit the working
VACS website used by the NZ Fire Service below.
A dummy volunteer login is available using the
the demo data document.
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