What is "Emergency Planning"?
Emergencies are happening somewhere in the country almost every minute of every day. The emergency services, (police, fire, ambulance and coastguard, deal with them quickly and efficiently. These incidents can include traffic accidents, fires, medical emergencies and other serious incidents at sea or in the waters of the Solent. The local authorities do not activate their emergency plans for these incidents.
It is when a more disastrous event takes place that is beyond the capacity of the emergency services to deal with unaided that the county and district special plans are put into action. These plans are designed to support the emergency services in their difficult task.
Definition of Major Civil Emergency
We define a "major civil emergency" as a major incident is any emergency that requires the implementation of special arrangements by one or more of the emergency services, the NHS or the local authority, for:-
- the initial treatment, rescue and transport of a large number of casualties;
- the involvement either directly or indirectly of large numbers of people;
- the handling of a large number of enquiries likely to be generated both from the public and the news media, usually to the police;
- the need for the large scale combined resources of two or more of the emergency services;
- the mobilisation and organisation of the emergency services and supporting organisations, for example a local authority, to cater for the threat of death, serious injury or homelessness to a large number of people.
When the immediate life threatening period has passed, the Local Authority will play a role in restoring normality to the area affected as quickly as possible.
What sort of disaster could happen?
Disasters can happen anywhere and any time and they can take many forms. Violent storms, like those in the winter of 1993, the Lockerbie air-crash, the fire at Kings Cross station and the terrorist bombing of London's Dockland. Whatever shape a disaster may take, should it happen in Hampshire the people affected would look to the County and District authorities to react promptly as promised in their public charters.
The type of disaster and the extent of its scale will determine which County and District Department(s) will be the most heavily involved. It is probable that the consequences will involve a large number of personnel for a considerable time and will call for much effort and dedication from all.
Why should we bother to make plans?
When a major emergency occurs the speed of response, and particularly in the first instance, is critical. This is not the time for any of us to ask "Where do I go and what do I do?". Generally speaking, local authority staff will be asked to carry out their normal working functions; but in crisis conditions. They will also be operating with many other organisations and agencies, including those from the voluntary sector. Under these circumstances co-ordination of the total activity becomes paramount otherwise chaos could well reign. Therefore, plans are prepared to ensure that we are not caught totally unawares.
Procedures have been developed to help in the setting up of a model organisation in the shortest possible time. Once in place the senior managers can assess the situation and determine the appropriate level of response. It is essential that the planning is flexible so that the response can be expanded or contracted should circumstances change. If there were to be no guidelines, or a basic organisational response, much valuable time would be lost, to the benefit of no one.
Major Emergency Arrangements
The one thing you can be sure of in an emergency situation is that it will probably be the last thing that you expected.
This explains simple steps everyone should take to be ready when an emergency strikes. It explains easy safety measures, how to reduce damage to property and what to do if you have a shelter in your home or move out of your home until danger has passed. Remember your own preparations and self-help are essential and critical factors in dealing with any emergency.
This simple guide aims to help people cope with the unexpected and assist the emergency services in dealing quickly and efficiently with major emergencies.
Dealing with an emergency
Whatever the situation, it is important to be ready to follow the instructions from the Police and other emergency services. Planning for an emergency is never easy because no-one can predict what might happen - a major road, train, air or river accident; a serious fire; violent storms; flooding or another dangerous incident. Whatever happens, it will almost certainly mean police, fire and ambulance services in the front line of a tough situation.
Although every incident is different, they will operate in accordance with procedures set out in the Emergency Services Major Incident Procedure Manual.
These procedures are constantly being updated, and the Council has its own plans for mobilising social services, housing, highways and environmental health. Public utilities, voluntary organisations and many businesses also have their own emergency plans.
An emergency incident might mean evacuating an area and providing temporary accommodation. Rest centres may need to be set up, food and blankets provided and information given to anxious relatives. Someone has to be ready to reunite families who may be parted by an emergency situation, perhaps because the children were at school or some people at work.
Arranging all this is the job of the emergency services supported by the Council and many other public, private and voluntary organisations.
Radio and TV - warning the public
In major emergency situations, it may be necessary to issue warnings and advice to the public. Such messages would normally be broadcast on relevant radio and TV channels.
Remember to cater for power cuts - you should have a battery-operated radio and know how to tune in to your local stations.