What happens in an emergency?

Emergencies can happen at any time and often with very little or no notice. When they do happen, the emergency services, Shropshire Council and a number of other agencies work together to save lives and to look after the welfare of people in affected communities.

An emergency can be difficult to define, as what one person may consider an emergency another may not. Emergencies are usually events that can't be dealt with under normal working arrangements, requiring a co-ordinated and cohesive response.

Command and control

When emergency services arrive at an incident, the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) doctrine will apply, and those attending will agree which agency assumes the 'lead service' role. Risks and priorities will be identified, along with the resources and capabilities required to provide an effective response.

In an emergency, local authorities are deemed a ‘category-one responder’, which is the same ranking as the emergency services. Therefore in an emergency Shropshire Council adopts a similar response structure to other category-one responders to ensure that a multi-agency response is coordinated and efficient.

Roles and responsibilities

The emergency services and Shropshire Council work together with an overarching aim to protect life, property and the environment. The wider roles and responsibilities include:

Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service

  • Life-saving through search/rescue
  • Fire fighting

West Midlands Ambulance Service

  • Triage
  • Treatment
  • Transportation of casualties to hospital

 West Mercia Police

  • Secure and preserve the scene
  • Collect evidence
  • Manage the public
  • Family liaison

Shropshire Council

  • Meet welfare needs
  • Provide rest centres/shelter
  • Provide information to the public
  • Road closures/diversions
  • Clean up/waste management
  • Manage the return to normality

Scene management

At the scene of most emergencies, a cordon will be established which for a period may prevent you returning to your home or place of work. Cordons will vary in size dependent on the nature of the emergency, and are established to enable the emergency services to work at the scene by:

  • Preventing unauthorised access
  • Protecting the public
  • Protecting those working within the cordon
  • Preserving the scene for evidence/investigation

Evacuation or shelter in-situ

In some circumstances, taking shelter in your own home/place of work (shelter in-situ), closing windows and turning off air conditioning etc may be the safest available option. Alternatively, evacuation from your home/place of work may be necessary.

The decision to shelter in-situ or to evacuate will be made by the agencies responding to the emergency, and will be based on a risk assessment of the nature of the emergency and the environment at the time.

You'll be informed of what you need to do via a number of channels that may include local radio, social media, public address systems or having someone knocking on your door.

Shelter and welfare

If you're evacuated during an emergency, you'll be more comfortable staying with friends and family. However, if this isn't possible Shropshire Council has a responsibility to provide temporary shelter and welfare. A number of sites across Shropshire have been pre-designated as rest centres, providing short-term and/or overnight accommodation and meals.

For the most vulnerable evacuees who may not be able to self-evacuate, transportation will be provided to the nearest rest centre.

Return and recovery

When it is safe to do so following an emergency, the responding agencies will declare an ‘all clear’ which will be communicated directly to rest centres and via broadcast media and social media.

Following the ‘all clear’ notification:

  • The return of people will be phased and controlled to avoid traffic chaos
  • Public transport services will be resumed
  • Transport will be arranged to return evacuees from rest centres to their homes

The need to activate recovery arrangements and meet recovery needs will vary from emergency to emergency. It will be led by Shropshire Council in liaison with appropriate organisations, including local community groups and volunteers.