We Are Randox | BBC NI’s The Search features Randox colleague Dale McGall

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We Are Randox | BBC NI’s The Search features Randox colleague Dale McGall

On Tuesday 23rd January 2019, a new three-part documentary series, The Search, aired on BBC Northern Ireland, featuring Randox’s very own Dale McGall.

By day, Dale is a Regulatory Compliance Officer at Randox making sure that all our products are of the highest quality and comply with all quality regulations before they are shipped all over the world to our customers.

Outside of work, however, Dale takes on a very different role when he volunteers as a Search and Rescue Technician (SarTECH) with the Community Rescue Service organisation in Northern Ireland (part of Lowland Rescue). Community Rescue Service is a team of approximately 130 people with units spread across the country on a 100% voluntary basis.

We caught up with Dale to hear all about his work as a SARTech volunteer;

Congratulations to CRS on the documentary, Dale! Can you tell us a little more about the work of Community Rescue Service and the role you play as a volunteer?

The Association of Lowland Search and Rescue (ALSAR) is an umbrella organisation that enables Search and Rescue teams throughout the UK. It coordinates provision of Lowland SAR services, sets national standards for the teams and develops and shapes Lowland SAR policies.

In Northern Ireland, the team is known as the Community Rescue Service with units and personnel from all parts of the country. Presently there are units in Strabane, Coleraine, Portglenone, Broughshane, Antrim, Belfast, and South Down, amongst others.

Training is a key part of being in CRS. Before being allowed out on a Search, personnel are required to conduct training on map reading, radio communication, first aid, search techniques and water awareness. Over time, people can take part in additional training; from being part of a boat crew and use of kayaks, to water rescue and advanced first aid.

Within CRS, I am a Search and Rescue Technician (SARTech) and have completed several first aid courses.

How long have you been involved with Community Rescue Service?

I have been with CRS since 2017 when I was looking for volunteering opportunities outside of work. I saw some social media posts about the work of the Community Rescue Service and decided to get in touch.

The rest, as they say, is history!

I train weekly with the Antrim, Portglenone and Broughshane units. This training involves reinforcing existing knowledge, familiarisation training, and inviting third party organisations to give us specialist advice.

Can you describe a typical day/operation in the life of a CRS volunteer?

It may sound cliché but no two days are the same with the CRS! As well as the operational role of Search and Rescue, I have also found myself supervising street collections, marshalling for cycling clubs, and giving talks to other organisations.

What would a typical rescue involve?

Our rescues most often involve vulnerable high-risk members of society. Typically, this could be children, elderly people living with dementia, or those with mental health issues.

A call can go out at any time of the day or night and to any part of the country. I’ve been involved in searches that have lasted weeks and have had massive resources invested in them. Just as often though, I’ve had call-outs for which I’ve arrived at the meeting point and then been given the order to stand down as the missing person has been found. In either situation, our focus is locating the missing person as soon as possible and returning them to a place of safety.

It can a very busy lifestyle volunteering with CRS. While I can’t leave during working hours, as soon as I clock out from Randox I am ‘on duty’ with CRS because a call can come in at any time. Being flexible with your evenings, weekends and annual leave is a must as time is of the essence when a person goes missing.

On one occasion, I was involved in an overnight search in County Down, returning home around 09:00. A quick shower, change of clothes and I was back out to another rescue based in North Antrim. Is this compulsory? No, but as an operational SARTech, you are part of a team and there is a strong teamwork ethos where we support and help each other.

Is there anything you would like to share that you think isn’t commonly known about the CRS?

Something I wasn’t overly aware of before joining CRS is how dementia can affect people. People with dementia can regress to a period of their lives many decades ago. One search involved an elderly gentleman with dementia who had gone missing. Approximately thirty SARTechs were deployed across a wide area with a helicopter flying overhead. About an hour later, the call came to stand down as the gentleman had been found. What I found amazing about this particular search was the gentleman, who was not steady on his feet and used a zimmer frame to walk, was found roughly five miles away from his house!

As volunteers, none of us get paid but knowing you helped return a missing person to their loved ones is beyond any form of financial reward.

How does being a SarTECH volunteer compare with working in your day job at Randox?

The two roles are very different but there are a number of transferrable skills which have proved useful! The main one is attention to detail. In my role at Randox as a Regulatory Compliance Officer, I am often auditing performance and processes across the company. Not only do I review new and existing compliance legislation but I am also involved in assisting with the implementation of corrective and preventive actions.

My role as a SarTECH calls for a similar level of attention to detail. You never know where someone could be, or where there may be unknown danger for the missing person or the Search and Rescue team, so it’s important to always be on-your-guard and alert to even the smallest noise or change in environment when out on a rescue mission.

What do you hope The Search will achieve on BBC NI?

I’m hoping the series being aired will raise awareness of some of the challenges that we as a country face. The Search will help to showcase our people, capabilities and our professionalism. The Community Rescue Service is a vital service in Northern Ireland, but is 100% run by volunteers on whom the organisation very much relies.

If anyone would like to find out more information about the work I do with the Community Rescue Service, please visit https://www.communityrescue.org

You can watch The Search on BBC iPlayer here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0byhv18/the-search-series-1-episode-1

For more We Are Randox stories about our amazing colleagues, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and follow the hashtag #WeAreRandox.

For further information please contact Randox PR by emailing randoxpr@randox.com  

 

 

 


Impact Excellence Awards: Randox revealed as Ulster University Placement Employer Award Finalist

The cream of students employers were last night celebrated at a prestigious awards ceremony at the Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office, to pay recognition to the companies across Northern Ireland that go above and beyond to provide high calibre placement and job opportunities for University students.

With over 155 companies nominated, including PWC and BBC, the competition for the top Placement Employer in Northern Ireland was fierce. We are extremely pleased to announce that Randox came in as one of the top 3 finalists for Ulster University’s Top Placement Employer of the Year, in the ‘nominated by an Ulster University Student’ category.

We caught up with Human Resources Officer, Jolene Jamison, who manages the Placement and Graduate Programme, about what it is that makes the placement experience at Randox so unique.

 

The Randox Placement Programme, by Human Resources Officer, Jolene Jamison

An in-depth induction

For students the Randox placement journey, from beginning to end, is the perfect transition from university life to the workplace.

When they arrive, the induction process is an important first step in easing students into what is for many, their first professional job.  It gives students an overview of the company, the company’s products and services, the ethos of the organisation, the responsibilities of their job role, the placement support on offer and the processes in place for feedback and evaluation.   The induction process also gives students an insight into the valuable contribution they can make to Randox and subsequently global health, by showcasing examples of previous placement students’ work.

Students also have the opportunity to meet with other employees and students across the company to develop an understanding of the wider Randox organisation. Each induction is tailored dependent on the role to be fulfilled, in order to help the student to gain an understanding of where they personally fit within the organisation, and so they experience a mix of presentations, seminars, interactive sessions and shadowing a supervisor, to gain insight into the responsibilities of their department.

We also make a preliminary assessment of each student’s capabilities in order to identify training and development needs throughout the duration of their placement.

A Supportive Environment

During placements with us our students are each supported by a dedicated placement co-ordinator and mentor, and meet with them every 3 months for review. 

At an initial review students outline the skills gained from their degree, identify their career goals, and agree a plan of action with their mentor. This ensures their skills are utilised during their placement, provides focus and direction and helps them on their chosen career path.

For each upcoming review period, each student’s strengths and any challenges they have encountered are identified, with new objectives set as part of an on-going review.  This helps highlight any training and development needs, enabling the placement co-ordinator to implement a training plan. 

The placement co-ordinator at Randox is responsible for the pastoral support of each student, and additionally, students are often paired off with a colleague in their department who helps with day-to-day support. 

All Randox student placements are financially supported; they receive an employment package similar to full-time employees including paid holidays and flexible working hours.

Helping students discover their goals and objectives

At Randox we are aware of the important contribution we can make in shaping a student’s professional career, which is why placement opportunities are offered to even those in their first year of university studies, through the Randox APEX Programme.

Students are encouraged to discuss their long term career goals with their placement mentor and manager, and are encouraged to pursue their own areas of interest.

Students are often involved in novel research projects, encouraging individual thinking, ideas generation and strong confidence in their ability. These novel research projects encourage placement students to get involved in the core company projects and voice their thoughts and ideas.  Working in such an environment can give placement students the opportunity to develop professional expertise in specialist areas.

The opportunity to make a real contribution

This year we were awarded with our Placement Employer Award specifically for the placement we provided for Business Student Meghan Sample.

Meghan made real contributions to Randox during her time here, and was involved in presenting a digital content marketing strategy to Marketing Management. This included strict guidelines to ensure consistency through all graphics, language used and tone of voice.  She then implemented this content marketing strategy via mail-campaigns, social platforms, web pages, insightful clinical market articles and whitepapers.

The results of Meghan’s digital content marketing strategy helped her and her team understand her value and the value of her work to the organisation.  Online engagement increased by a staggering 1,200%, web traffic by 256.91% and by quarter 3 of 2016, 100% of Randox RX Series sales to distributors and end-users originated from Meghan’s digital marketing campaign.

This not only gave Meghan a focus for her studies upon her return to university but a real understanding of how academic learning is put in to practice in the working world.  This project enabled her to find her passion and decide what area of work she wanted to pursue.

Letting students know that they’re doing well

We really value that students require support and encouragement and therefore we celebrate their achievements at a Student Placement Awards Ceremony, in which exceptional students who have worked hard, made outstanding contributions to the company, and excelled in general during their placement year are formally recognised.  This furthermore instils pride and self-esteem in the students that will encourage the continuation of their hard work and determination.

Meghan Semple joined Team Randox in September 2015 as a Marketing Placement student from Ulster University Business School, and left Randox as our Business Placement Student of the Year 2015-2016, an accolade that recognised her achievements and contributions to the company.

An exceptional experience

The placement student experience is second to none.  During their Randox placement, students are given the opportunity to be involved in ground breaking research and development, often working with pioneering technologies that are exported globally. 

Being entrusted to work individually on personal projects of such high calibre means that students can set and achieve impressive goals, instilling a strong sense of professional pride early in each student’s career. 

Being given their own tasks and responsibilities integrates students into the Randox workforce, performing duties of equal importance to graduate, part-time, full-time, new, and long-serving members of staff alike. 

For the duration of their placements, placement students are as involved in the running of Randox as any other member of staff and their contributions make a real difference.

Students are offered exposure to staff at varying levels and are involved in presentations to Management. They are offered the same opportunities as any other member of their team, as the fresh ideas and perspectives of Ulster University students are hugely beneficial and valued by Randox.  Many Randox students are offered full-time jobs upon completion of their degree, which shows the importance of Randox placements as a springboard into exciting and enjoyable careers.”

For more information about the Impact Excellence Awards, please contact randoxpr@randox.com

For information on what it’s like to work at Randox, visit https://www.randox.com/we-are-randox/ , or for current vacancies please visit http://careers.randox.com/


BBC Investigation: ‘Taking legal highs is like playing russian roulette with your life’

A ground-breaking undercover investigation has exposed the deadly world of legal highs, the latest drug craze sweeping the UK and causing devastation to families and communities across the country.

An investigative team from the BBC followed the journey of these dangerous and highly addictive substances from source to sale and used secret filming to reveal that legal substances bought in the UK’s high streets pose a hazardous and lethal risk.

During the hour-long programme this evening on BBC Scotland, journalists shine a spotlight on the growing legal high epidemic, where synthetic drugs are designed to mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine.

The team enlisted the help of Randox Testing Services, to further investigate the make-up of these drugs, which contain a cocktail of chemical ingredients that suppliers continually tweak to evade the law.

But the legality of these ‘highs’ in no way makes the drugs any safer. The disturbing test results show that legal highs bought in the UK contain a poisonous mixture of synthetic cannabinoids which have as strong an effect as illegal drugs, such as LSD or Amphetamines, and in some cases even stronger.

Sadly, the statistics correspond, as Government figures show that in just three short years the number of deaths in the UK linked to legal highs grew from 12 in 2009, to 97 in 2012.

It is a growing problem that Dr. Mark Piper, Head of Toxicology at Randox Testing Services, is all too familiar with:

“It’s very much back-room and underground chemistry that’s behind all this. You don’t know what’s in them and what quantities of chemicals are used, and therefore how much to take. These substances were not even designed to be used on humans, so in taking them you are playing Russian roulette with your life.”

Piper added; “In supporting the fantastic investigative team from the BBC we are glad to assist in highlighting this growing epidemic which has had shattering effects on families and communities across the UK.”

The intense rise in prevalence of legal highs and their catastrophic effects has sparked the debate of a controversial Psychoactive Substances Bill, which potentially will implement a blanket ban on the production, distribution, sale and supply of any substance defined as having a ‘psychoactive effect’.

This BBC Scotland documentary will air tonight, Monday, 5th October 2015, on BBC One Scotland at 9p.m.


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