Busy behind the scenes with emergency planning
Column by Coun Richard Davies, Lincolnshire County Council executive member for highways
As June’s heavy rain proved, emergencies can happen anywhere at any time and can significantly disrupt our daily lives.
While we can’t always prevent them from happening, we can plan ahead to reduce the impact they have. That’s why the county council’s emergency planning team is always busy behind the scenes, planning how best to respond to major incidents.
Flooding, severe weather and pandemic flu are just some of the potential emergencies that organisations in Lincolnshire could be called on to deal with. And the emergency planning team is responsible for ensuring all the key organisations, such as the emergency services, local councils, the Environment Agency and health organisations, work together in a co-ordinated way.
The team also arranges training exercises to help us prepare, running carefully simulated incidents, such as a major oil spill, flooding or a train crash. This is an opportunity for all involved to test their ability to respond effectively and identify any areas for improvement.
The team have also helped establish and train community groups who can serve on the front line of any emergency. Community emergency groups play a really important role during an emergency response, as getting the right information to the right people at the right time can save lives, livelihoods and the environment.
The local knowledge they hold is vital, and research suggests that these communities may recover faster from an incident than those without one.
Around 180 groups are currently working in partnership with the council before, during and after emergency incidents.
Recently, a new text alert system has been tested, giving groups access to important information in the event of an emergency and the ability to communicate directly with the County Emergency Centre.
Groups are also encouraged to take part in multi-agency exercises, training in case the incident ever happens for real. Any community can come together to form a local voluntary emergency planning group and develop an emergency plan for their area.
Besides encouraging the growth of community groups, the emergency planning team also supports businesses to protect themselves. The aim is help them cope more effectively with major incidents and ensure ‘business continuity’ avoiding or limiting disruption.
All this hard work has seen the team recognised nationally for ‘best practice’ in areas including command training, planning, community resilience and volunteers.