8 November 20214 minute read

How the Woodbridge ERG Delivers Vital Medication to 1300 Residents per Week

Eamonn O’Nolan is a town councilor at Woodbridge in Suffolk. When COVID-19 started to alter his community’s day-to-day life back in March, Eamonn and the other Woodridge councilors organized an Emergency Response Group (ERG) to help their residents, a high percentage of whom are senior citizens.

The Woodbridge ERG set up a food bank to help distribute groceries and meals, as well as a phone support line for those in need of someone to talk to while experiencing isolation due to practicing extreme social distancing.

They also partnered with local pharmacies to deliver medication to Woodbridge’s roughly 9,000 residents (a little less than half of whom are dependent on receiving life-saving medicine), so people could get their prescriptions without having to leave the safety of their homes.

According to Eamonn:

Finding a way to deliver prescriptions was actually one of the first issues we tackled. Residents were queuing in long lines to pick up their prescriptions from the pharmacist. We wanted to help and encourage our residents to practice social distancing, so we started working with local pharmacies to deliver medications straight to people’s homes.

Eamonn and his team were able to head off the long lines from forming at the pharmacies, but that was just the beginning. When they first started making deliveries, they were handling about 600 deliveries a week.

Soon, Eamonn’s team of volunteer drivers were completing over 1300 deliveries per week.

Not using Circuit for Teams? If you manage a team of drivers and want a simple, cost-effective way to keep track of them (while making their routes more efficient), sign up for a free trial of Circuit for Teams.

How the Woodbridge ERG Uses Circuit for Teams to Service its Community

A Woodbridge Emergency Response Group Volunteer Uses Circuit to Optimize a Route

Before Circuit for Teams, Eamonn handled route planning by taking the medication orders from the pharmacies, collecting all the addresses, and then placing maps on the floor with a sheet of postcodes nearby. Using that information — and his familiarity with Woodbridge and its surrounding areas — Eamonn went through and tried to create as efficient a route as possible for his drivers.

This was a very time-consuming process because once the team was finished making the routes, they still had to physically sort medications to match the route and transfer all the appropriate labels.

This entire process took Eamonn and a helper, from start to finish, around one hour. Because the Woodbridge ERG delivers six days a week that equals 12 hours a week of labor spent on route planning and parcel organization — and that was when the Woodbridge ERG was only responsible for 600 deliveries a week. As the demand grew, Eamonn knew he needed to find a solution.

Improving the Whole Planning and Dispatch Process

First, he worked with the local pharmacies. Instead of having his team pick up unsorted medications and then having to completely re-organize them by postcode, Eamonn started having the pharmacies organize the medications (as best they could) by grouping addresses together.

Then there was the problem of creating a system that new drivers could easily be trained on. The Woodbridge ERG uses volunteers from the community, not professional courier drivers.

It was important to us that if someone called out sick that the whole system didn’t fall apart because they weren’t able to manage the deliveries.

That’s when he found Circuit for Teams. Eamonn hoped to solve his route-planning troubles and make their process easier to learn so he could onboard more volunteers, via the Circuit app.

He quickly learned it was easier on his team of volunteers if he played to their strengths, so he used Circuit to optimize individual routes based on the areas where his drivers preferred to deliver.

Thanks to Eamonn’s process improvements, the entire process — starting with picking up the medications from the pharmacy to getting optimized delivery routes sent to the drivers — takes about one hour; only 10-15 minutes are spent on planning the route. That’s roughly six hours saved each week thanks to the Circuit for Teams route optimization.

A Better Way to Manage Volunteers

In addition to taking less time, the system is now volunteer-friendly. Eamonn has been able to recruit new volunteers, focusing on families who live in the same household so they can work in pairs and not worry about breaking social distancing guidelines.

We’re about a week away from having five new couples trained on our process. Because of how we’ve been able to improve the way we do things, along with using Circuit for creating routes, these new volunteers will be able to do the sorting and the dispatch job in an hour. And from there, they’ll only become more efficient.

Eamonn also shared with us that he likes Circuit because it allows him and the rest of the Woodbridge ERG to monitor the routes as they are in progress while creating a history of stops made. This is helpful for two reasons.

First, the Woodbridge ERG is delivering pharmaceuticals, so a clear history of when deliveries were made plays a critical role in accounting for all the orders.

Second, Eamonn and his team rely on volunteer drivers. Route monitoring gives him peace of mind in case a driver gets lost or otherwise needs assistance.

Woodbridge ERG: Going Forward

Eamonn isn’t sure what future challenges the Woodbridge ERG will have to overcome. Much of what happens next depends on the long-lasting implications of COVID-19.

For now, he and his emergency response group have agreed to help local pharmacies deliver medications through September. As they continue making deliveries, he plans to keep using Circuit for Teams, as it allows his team to streamline operations and his drivers to complete their route quickly and efficiently.

Not using Circuit for Teams? If you manage a team of drivers and want a simple, cost-effective way to keep track of them (while making their routes more efficient), sign up for a free trial of Circuit for Teams.

About the author

David KloseContributor

David is a content writer based out of Phoenix, Arizona. He has written for SaaS and e-commerce companies, as well as several mattress blogs. His work on sleep health has been featured on Today.com and Yahoo! Lifestyle.


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Logistics map interface showing the New York afternoon delivery run with route lines and list of addresses