Emergencies can be considered in three key themes. These are:
Plan is more than just having plans to be able to respond to emergencies. We need to ensure that we have the right plans for the risks that the District faces. We also need to ensure that people within the Council are trained to use the plans and respond to emergencies and that we practice to make sure the plans are fit for purpose.
As part of the cycle of emergency planning, plans are developed according to the highest risks on the West Yorkshire Community Risk Register and in response to issues which are known to affect parts of the District e.g. flooding.
In this way we can make sure that we have the right plans in place relative to the risks faced and that we are able to respond appropriately. Currently the highest risks on the West Yorkshire Community Risk Register are:
Risk is the chance of a hazard occurring multiplied by the impact if that hazard were to occur. Impact considers the effect on the economy, environment, health of the population and the social effects of the hazard should it occur. The highest risks may not occur as frequently as some of the lower ones however the impacts should they occur would be particularly significant and it is therefore important to be prepared.
The Council’s main plan is known as the Emergency Management Plan. It is a generic plan which is used in all emergencies and sets out who does what within the Council and a framework for responding.
The rest of the Council’s Plans can be split into two key areas, those for particular hazards e.g. severe weather and those for enabling a response e.g. a rest centre.
The plans address those risks assessed as very high on the West Yorkshire Community Risk Register. The Council’s Adverse Weather Plan will be used in the event of heavy snow fall and the Human Disease Outbreak Plan in the event of an epidemic/pandemic of an influenza type illness.
In the event of a total electricity failure the Council would implement its Business Continuity Management Plans to ensure it continues to deliver its critical services. The Council’s Emergency Management Plan would be used for responding to impacts in the community.
Once we have emergency plans in place it is important that the people that will use them and respond in an emergency are appropriately trained. The Emergency Management Team is currently in the process of delivering a large training programme within the Council.
Exercising plans is the second step of the process. This is where the plans are “tested” in an exercise environment to see if they are fit for purpose and people are appropriately trained. Exercises can be run in a number of ways, these may be workshops where we discuss how we would respond, table-top exercises where a number of different scenarios are presented and a simulated response occurs or a live exercise where we actually simulate an emergency and where people and resources are deployed.
From a small emergency to one which affects the entire District it is likely that a number of Council Services will be involved in the response.
The Emergency Management Team have a duty officer on call 24/7 throughout the year. Our partner agencies e.g. the Police can contact us directly if there is an emergency. We also monitor weather forecasts and warnings and work closely with the Environment Agency where there is potential for flooding to occur.
Throughout we will be using the emergency plans to determine how we respond.
The role of the Emergency Management Team for smaller emergencies is to co-ordinate the Council’s response. For larger emergencies we support and advise senior officers within the Council.
The Team is also responsible for ensuring that the Council provides appropriate resources and we work with Council Services to ensure that if needed we can activate a Rest Centre if people are evacuated or a Helpline if people require specific advice.
For larger emergencies we may open an Emergency Control Centre. The Council have a number of Emergency Control Centres across the District. These are dedicated rooms with appropriate communication links and IT facilities where the response to an emergency can be co-ordinated from.
We may also have Council officers working at the scene and liaising with partner agencies such as the emergency services. W
The following table explains the nationally recognised command and control structure of Bronze – Silver - Gold which is used in responding to emergencies. The structure allows us and our partner agencies to come together in a structured environment to ensure that we respond in an integrated and co-ordinated manner.
|The Gold (Strategic) level would be initiated for large scale emergencies. Within the local authority this would be the Chief Executive Officer or their nominated deputy. They would liaise with senior officers from the other responding agencies. Strategic aspects of the emergency from information supplied from the Silver (Tactical) level, would be considered, from which a policy framework would be implemented to respond to the emergency.|
|The Silver (Tactical) level of response is usually situated near to the emergency scene to enable the swift decision and implementation of actions, staff and resources. This level will be directed by the Gold (strategic level) if the emergency warranted it. Silver would have the over view of the emergency and the response required. The Silver level within the Council would be the Emergency Management Group.|
|The Bronze (Operational) level would usually be the first service(s) on scene i.e. emergency services. The Bronze level within the Council would be the operational departments i.e. cleansing and highways. The immediate needs of the emergency would dictate the level of response. If necessary this would be escalated to Silver or Tactical level, where the initiation of a plan of action would be formulated.|
Letting people know what is going on during an emergency is key to enable people to take the necessary action.
We work closely with Council Services and our partner agencies to ensure we have a regularly updated assessment of an emergency so we can work together to pass on the appropriate information and advice.
We work hard to ensure that our Current Emergencies webpage is kept up to date during emergencies and where emergencies may occur e.g. due to poor weather. We also tweet and retweet messages on Bradford Council's Twitter account @bradfordmdc. During an emergency you are also advised to “tune in” to local radio for the most up to date information.
Recover or recovery is about getting back to “normal”. Sometimes for smaller emergencies this may simply be reopening a road or allowing people that have been evacuated to return to their homes.
Where there has been a bigger impact it may be about returning to a new “normality”. The Council leads the recovery process and working with individuals and communities to drive the recovery process is key.
The recovery response does not begin when the emergency response ends but begins whilst the emergency response is occurring. During larger emergencies the Council may designate a number of officers to lead the recovery process which will involve many people from many organisations.
The recovery process can be very short i.e. a few hours to something that can last very many years.
Emergency plans and response arrangements guide and support us in our response but they are not infallible. An important part of any emergency is reviewing how it was managed, identifying want went well and what lessons can be learned so we can better our response in the future.
After responses to larger emergencies the Emergency Management Team carry out full debriefs with Council Services and our partner agencies. This feeds back into the cycle of emergency planning.
Plans are updated and amended as required and training will be adapted and provided again as needed. The same process is used after exercises so we can make sure that we learn the lessons that we identified in a training environment and that we are better prepared in the event of a real emergency occurring.