Emergency Planning

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 of responding to a major incident.

Definition of Major Incident

We define a major incident as an event or situation, with a range of serious consequences, which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more of the emergency responder agencies.

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.

Why should we bother to make plans?

When a major emergency occurs the speed of response, particularly in the first instance, is critical. 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.

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 their procedures. 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.

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004

This legislation was introduced to improve the UK’s ability to deal with the consequences of major disruptive incidents.

The legislation and its guidance deliver a single framework for civil protection in the UK.

One of the requirements of the Act is to produce a Community Risk register. This will be the result of a risk assessment of the likelihood of an event occurring in the area and will uniform plans of how to respond to all hazards.

There is also a need to provide Business Continuity Management for the Council itself and to provide advice for the general community. Business Continuity is the degree to which an organisation is able to carry on providing its services following a disruption. Hampshire County Council has been developing a framework for working with district councils to provide advice. For further information follow the link to Business Continuity.

For further information please contact Michael White:

Licensing Manager and Emergency Planning Liaison Officer
Tel 01264 368013
Email mwhite@testvalley.gov.uk