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How Pegasus was born

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Chris Channon is a campaigner and founder of Pegasus. Here's his story.

“I have lived alone in the community since 1983 and although I’m normally able to speak quite well, I do find making myself understood on the phone difficult.

Even on a good day there are certain words, including my surname, that I just can't say clearly. When I’m upset, nervous or in pain my disability makes speaking even more difficult.

On several occasions when I’d had cause to call 999 to request the police's help, my call was terminated because I’d had difficulty making myself understood.

Fortunately, none of my calls were single-chance opportunities made in life-threatening situations – but what if they had been?

These experiences made me realise there is nothing to help customer service advisors distinguish between a genuine speech-impaired caller and one who is drunk or making a malicious call.

The introduction of Minicom, Typetalk and SMS text facilities at emergency call centres has gone some way in improving 999 access for Deaf and some speech-impaired people.

However, these solutions require literacy, manual dexterity and technical knowledge or are dependent on specific technologies not available away from home.

After looking at emergency call systems around the world, I spent three years working closely with Nottinghamshire Police developing my own solution to the problem.

Pegasus is a secure database that contains the names, addresses and other information volunteered by people who, like me, would find it difficult to give this same information via the spoken word in a time of crisis.

Those registered with Pegasus are issued with a personal identification number (PIN) to use when making a call to the police.

Once put through, the caller only needs to say “Pegasus” and their PIN. This enables the customer service advisor to access that person’s details from the database. The caller is then asked to confirm their name. The advisor can then quickly get on with dealing with the situation that prompted the call.

The Pegasus PIN can also be shown or told to a police officer in person who can use the information on the database to offer assistance.

What began as a pilot scheme in 2008 has been running ever since and now has hundreds of members.

Pegasus has attracted the interest of other police forces and emergency services, including Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue and East Midlands Ambulance Service.