Technology transforms

14 July 2021

As live events begin their return in the UK, The Emergency Services Show at the NEC on 7 and 8 September 2021 represents the first opportunity for the entire UK Emergency Services community and its supply chain to gather as one for Best Practice advice and networking. Fire Safety Matters previews what’s on the agenda in Birmingham

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL power of new and emerging technologies will be the central theme of the expanded and enhanced Emergency Services Show, which features over 450 exhibitors (more than 90 of whom are new). Foremost among the technology-centric exhibitors are leading support organisations for the Emergency Services sector, including the police National Enabling Programmes (NEP), the Police Digital Service, techUK and the Home Office Emergency Services Network, which will replace the current Airwave service used by the Emergency Services in England, Wales and Scotland and transform how they operate.

New technology on display will encompass connected and smart vehicles, satellite communications, GIS and mapping technologies, UAVs/drones, ruggedised mobile computers, tablets and phones, data technology, cloud storage, wearable tech, connectivity, hybrid and electric vehicles, body-worn cameras and other video capture systems. 

Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the technology and experience how today’s solutions can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operational response. Other innovations on show will feature the latest protective fabrics, medical equipment and rescue tools.

Leading brands on the exhibition floor will be Angloco, Avon Protection, Draeger, Emergency One, Excelerate, Flamepro, Ford, Holmatro, Hunter Apparel Solutions, Interspiro, Kermel, MAN Truck & Bus, MSA Technologies, PBI Performance Products, PGI Safety, Rosenbauer, Venari, Vimpex, WL Gore & Associates and more. Over 90 organisations exhibiting for the first time in 2021 are BiTEA, Bullitt Group, Halo Technologies and Linkwave Technologies.

The West Midlands Fire Service will again host the popular Extrication Challenge (judged by the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation) and the First Aid and Trauma Challenge in which Emergency Services teams compete to demonstrate their highly-skilled rescue techniques.

Adapting to the new challenges created by COVID has heightened the demands placed upon our Emergency Services. Diverse and innovative emerging technologies have been rapidly deployed in a period of unprecedented change and, indeed, are the core theme of the exhibition and accompanying programme of over 80 Continuing Professional Development-accredited seminar sessions running across five theatres.

Future Policing Zone

A new feature of the 2021 show, the Future Policing Zone is supported by an influential Advisory Council chaired by Lord Bernard Hogan-Howe, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service. Showcasing the latest innovations available for the police sector and sponsored by Audax, the Future Policing Zone has the full backing of the Home Office, techUK, Blue Light Commercial, the NEP, the Police Digital Service, the Police Federation of England and Wales and the Police Superintendents Association.

In addition, the Future Policing Zone plays host to a high-level conference programme featuring influential speakers covering topics such as embedding digital technology in front line policing, addressing and protecting police officers from harm and Case Studies of multi-agency collaboration.

Emerging Technologies Theatre

Sponsored by MSA Safety, The Emerging Technologies Theatre showcases the most cutting-edge technology and equipment used in operational response. In addition, it will cover how the Emergency Services can use data and technology more efficiently, including how the organisational challenges presented by the pandemic have been met. 

Greg Lesson from the London Fire Brigade is set to talk about the work he has been doing with the Fire and Rescue Service on nutrition and diet to help maintain firefighters in peak physical and mental shape. Diversity in the Fire and Rescue Service will be covered by Jenny Pollock and Emma Shute from the organisation Women to Work. They’ll share their experiences of working with the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to overcome barriers to females’ progression and maximise their potential.

The Vehicle Innovation Theatre

The Vehicle Innovation Theatre will focus on one of the fastest-growing areas of innovation in the sector that includes everything from vehicles with electric, hybrid and decarbonised drivetrains through to smart and connected vehicles serving as communications hubs and mobile Incident Command Units. 

As the UK looks to reach net zero emissions by 2050, low-emission vehicles are expected to grow to meet the demand. Speakers are going to shed light on how the Emergency Services sector will need to adapt its practices and operations to support a more economical and efficient way of working.

Learning and Development Theatre

The Learning and Development Theatre connects personal development with the overarching theme of emerging technologies to feature a series of seminars designed to help professionals enhance and upgrade their personal skills and proficiency, in turn enhancing their careers. It will also focus on operational improvements as the Emergency Services have dramatically and dynamically pivoted their ways of working. 

Sessions not to be missed include an overview of the key roles and activities required before, during and after a crisis focusing on the demands of the leader of an organisation and of the chief communications officer, enhancing educational experience through simulation training and policing COVID-19.

Counter-terror equipment

Organisations showcasing counter-terrorism equipment and services include 5.11 Tactical UK, Ansell Healthcare, Audax, Avon Protection, Citizen Aid, Draeger, Haztec International, Interspiro, ResilienceDirect, Respirex, Terberg DTS and Will-Burt.

Enabling ICT applications will also be showcased, among them Control Room systems from new exhibitors like APD Communications and Hexagon, data management, mobile apps for Emergency Services and public use and the multiple technologies being employed to speed and aid collaboration. 

The exhibition floor also continues to feature innovation from leading names in the fields of search and rescue, extrication, training, protective clothing and uniforms, medical equipment, vehicles (and vehicle equipment) and outsourcing.

Health and well-being

The seminar programme in the Health and Well-Being Theatre sponsored by MSA Safety is designed to equip front line workers with the tools and techniques needed to maximise well-being and drive performance. A speaker line-up of experienced professionals will share their expertise of mental wellness, health and nutrition, workforce diversity and the latest digital support platforms. 

The Police Federation will talk about how the organisation is fighting for changes to current legislation on police conduct cases which currently have no time cap and are often the cause of considerable distress to officers. Visitors can also find out how a digital workplace platform called 87% – and which has been used by the likes of Police Scotland – has helped tens of thousands of front line workers to build mental fitness throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the networking hub of the show, namely The Collaboration Zone, visitors can meet representatives from a range of charities, voluntary groups and NGOs which can offer practical, emotional and sometimes financial support.

The aforementioned Future Policing Zone will also showcase organisations such as Oscar Kilo, Police Care UK, Surfwell, Devon and Cornwall and Dorset Police and Service Dogs UK who are delivering Best Practice, research findings and guidance to help shape the well-being agenda and encourage collaboration going forward.

Meanwhile, people services’ expert Rego will be discussing the transformation of workplace culture. The Eleos Partnership will be sharing tips on reducing the impacts of stress and pressure and PTSD999 is offering trauma response training, expertise when it comes to psychological Health and Safety and looking at the assessment and treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Co-located events

Free-to-attend and based in Hall 5 and the Outside Area at the NEC, The Emergency Services Show 2021 will, for the first time, be co-located with The Safety and Security Event Series encompassing The Fire Safety Event, The Health and Safety Event, The Security Event, The Facilities Event and also the newly-launched National Cyber Security Show, creating the UK’s largest event under one roof dedicated to the protection of people, places and assets.

The Fire Safety Event has grown to become the biggest event for the sector in the UK. With major lessons being learned from the Grenfell Tower tragedy, improving standards of fire safety management and then maintaining them has never been more important. Regulatory updates and legislation will be covered in the seminar programme, while over 150 exhibitors are showcasing the latest fire prevention and protection products and solutions.

Topics covered in The Fire Safety Theatre include the implications of the new Building Safety Bill, protecting historic premises from fire, passive fire protection, the new Fire Safety Act 2021, sprinklers, fire detection systems, ensuring safe evacuation and managing fire risk. The Fire Safety Theatre will also host the second meeting of the Women in Fire Group.

The NEC Venue Protect Programme ensures that all participants in The Emergency Services Show – and, indeed, The Safety and Security Event Series as a whole – can enjoy a COVID-safe and secure visit with comprehensive social distancing measures and enhanced cleaning and sanitisation on site.

Parking at the NEC for show visitors is free. Register in advance for free entry to all six events with a single pass by visiting