Single Point of Reference for Preparation and Coordination
The purpose of the Team is to provide a single point of reference for preparation and caring for people affected by emergencies within the affected area. It will care for people before, during and after emergencies by establishing and sustaining formal partnerships to co-ordinate its joint activity. It will ensure that its members own and maintain their arrangements and are fully prepared to respond to emergencies at all times.
The Team will:
- advise and inform the decisions of the Resilience Partnership;
- implement the Resilience Partnership strategies by co-ordinating its members’ activities; and
- deliver services through its members’ staff working at an operational level.
An event may affect more than one LRP/RRP, or it may be necessary to evacuate into an LRP/RRP area unaffected by the event. Where possible, during planning the affected LRP should consider the cross-boundary impacts of an event, the need to coordinate with neighbouring LRPs/RRPs, and the management of mutual aid. Coordination should seek to ensure that neighbouring LRPs/RRPs are aware of any planning that could have an impact on them, and that evacuation and shelter plans complement each other. In some cases it may be beneficial to develop joint plans.
Many of the activities involved in caring for people will take place within a support centre and so they are a key element to the responding to an emergency.
Planning for support centres should be proportionate to the type of risks identified locally and may range from small-scale local events to risks that have national consequences requiring large scale evacuation and shelter. Guidance on local risk assessments are available through the local Community Risk Register and Risk Preparedness Assessment process (RPA).
Further detailed information on the types of support centres that may be set up are in Annex B.
The table below provides a summary of the types of centres typically set up during an emergency. Naming of the centres may differ at a local level but should follow the basic principles and purposes.
Type of Centre
Survivor Reception Centre
Police or Transport Company
Secure area where survivors not requiring hospitalisation can be taken for first aid, documentation, comfort and interview etc.
Safe & Secure Place: Temporary accommodation
Evacuation: remove from danger zone.
Family & Friends Centre
Local Authority / Police
Coordination point for family and friends to await/provide information.
Humanitarian Assistance Centre
Local Authority [LRP/RRP approval may be required]
Long-term one stop shop for all those affected by the emergency and for the coordination of agencies responding to the emergency, including public, private and voluntary agencies.
The requirements of these centres will vary depending on the needs of those attending them, including both those affected and the staff of the organisations responding.
The purpose of the support centre may change as the incident develops. And this may require the purpose and function of the centre to evolve to meet the needs of those affected and to effectively respond to the incident.
The decision to open and maintain any of any of the support centres detailed above must be subject to regular review and advice sought from the various partner agencies. Not every incident will require all types of centres to be set up, however staff should be aware and understand the differences and services provided by each as time passes and needs change.
If a centre is established to meet the psychosocial and mental health needs of the affected populations, care should be taken to ensure the services remain available to all those affected and are integrated with other community, social and mental health services.
Staff will require training in their roles and this should be carried out on a multi- agency basis. Where voluntary agencies are to be used they too should be clear in the tasks they are being asked to provide and form part of any training events.
The emergency services may establish a Survivor Reception Centre (SRC) for short term shelter, first aid and, perhaps, the gathering of evidence, until the Team becomes involved.
The initial needs of those affected (survivors) are likely to include:
- safety, shelter and warmth;
- food and drink;
- minor first aid to treat injuries;
- help to meet any health and mobility needs;
- changing, washing and toilet facilities; and
- personal practical needs, for example, warm clothing, blankets, etc.
The Team would establish a rest centre as a refuge for evacuees and others affected. People arriving at the rest centre will be registered (to ensure the names and addresses of all those affected are recorded), provided with shelter, refreshment and practical support and, if necessary, interviewed by the Police. Care must be taken to avoid duplication of processing for those transferred from SRCs. People affected may also need support beyond their immediate requirements, for example, access to transport or temporary accommodation or referral to a humanitarian assistance centre.
RRPs and local responders should maintain lists of accommodation suitable to be used as rest centres and other facilities during emergencies. The Team must work closely with RRP members' functions that manage accommodation and associated resources to ensure the appropriateness of accommodation for its purposes and achieve rapid activation when required.
A family and friends reception centre (FFRC) may be established by the Police in consultation with the Care for People Team.
The purpose of a FFRC is to help reunite family and friends with survivors. Family and friends of those involved, or thought to have been involved, in an emergency will be directed to the FFRC, where they will be registered and their identification confirmed by the Police. They will be briefed regarding the emergency and given access to initial practical and emotional support from the Team and its partners in a particular emergency. Experience has shown that many people will travel to the scene or to meeting points, such as travel arrival and departure points, if they believe their family or friends may have been involved in an emergency. The Team should prepare to work with transport operators and similar organisations to provide essential services for those affected.
Survivor reception centres, rest centres and friends and family reception centres may meet the needs of those affected in the short term. However, experience has shown that providing for their personal needs may require the Team's support for a considerable time. How that support is provided must be determined on the basis of the impacts of the emergency and matters such as the numbers of those affected, number of fatalities and potential inquiries and investigations. The Team will consider a range of options for conducting its work that may include:
- co-ordinated extension of partner organisations' normal work;
- providing a personalised service for a small number of people;
- establishing a "virtual" support centre using helplines or websites;
- developing rest centres or other emergency centres into fully functioning humanitarian assistance centres ( HACs);
- establishing one or more HACs;
- establishing HACs to deal with particular client groups (friends and family members, the bereaved or particular communities); or
- other initiatives designed to meet the particular needs of the emergency.
Humanitarian Assistance Centre
The RRP may agree that a physical humanitarian assistance centre(s) (HAC) will be established. It may be necessary to open a number of HACs to deal with the needs of those affected by an emergency at remote locations in the UK or overseas.
The HAC will provide accommodation for Team members who can access the necessary support and assistance for all of those directly affected.
The purpose of an HAC is to:
- act as a focal point for information and assistance for those affected by an emergency, including survivors and the bereaved;
- offer access to, and guidance on, services available to allow people to make informed choices according to their needs;
- ensure a seamless multi-agency approach to care for people at all times; and
- facilitate the gathering of evidence to aid identification where necessary.
Data Sharing and Protection
The key principles for data sharing within the context of Care for People are:
- the starting point for emergency responders should be to consider the risks and potential harm that may arise if they do not share information. However, they should always consider whether the objective could still be achieved by sharing less, or no, personal data.
- category 1 and 2 responders should be confident in sharing personal data in emergency planning, response and recovery situations provided the Data Protection Act 1998 is complied with, which is likely in most emergency situations.
- data protection legislation does not prohibit the collection and sharing of personal data. Instead, it provides a framework for personal data to be used with the confidence that the privacy rights of affected individuals are being respected.
It is important to ensure effective data sharing between responders and other delivery partners involved in addressing HA during and following an emergency. Failure to share data can lead to affected individuals not receiving the support they need, when, or as soon as they need it and may compromise the overall response to the HA. Planners should incorporate data sharing and protection protocols in their planning and ensure that all delivery partners who may have to handle data belonging to affected individuals are aware of their responsibilities. In particular, planners should familiarise themselves with the Data Protection and Sharing – Guidance for Emergency Planners and Responders which explains in detail the points set out here.
The guidance provides detailed information on sharing data in, and after, an emergency. It explains that responders should be “re-assured that if they decide in good faith that it is appropriate to share personal information during an emergency, then they are extremely unlikely to be personally legally liable if- after the event- it turns out that the information sharing was not lawful. In the unlikely event of a complaint or mistake, any action or claim for compensation would almost certainly be made against the organisation concerned (and if not you could expect your organisation to support you)” p.6.
Gathering and sharing of personal data in an emergency situation
It is a common misconception that the Data Protection Act 1998 prevents personal data being shared unless the subject has been given consent. The Data Protection Act instead provides a framework where personal data can be shared where certain conditions are met. Consent is only one of a number of conditions under which personal data can be shared. In an emergency situation, or in the aftermath, personal data can be shared if responders consider it is necessary to protect the individual where there is a risk of significant harm to life, or for example, if it forms part of the exercise of functions in the public interest (i.e. activities to address the HA arising from an emergency).
Health and care staff should share information where there is a clear public interest in doing so. Every NHS and social care provider has a Caldicott Guardian, who is a senior person responsible for protecting patient confidentiality and enabling appropriate information-sharing. Staff who would like guidance on sharing information during an emergency should consult their Caldicott Guardian for advice.
Dealing with personal data gathered and/or shared in an emergency situation
Even if the data gathering and/or sharing itself is fair and lawful, it is important to ensure that the data is handled properly both during and after the event in accordance with the other data protection principles in the Data Protection Act 1998. For example, data obtained in an emergency situation should not be used for any other purpose that is incompatible with the purposes for which it was obtained in the first place. Responders will also need to ensure that any personal data they hold is kept securely and access is controlled. Any data collected should not be held for longer than is necessary and should not be excessive. These types of considerations should be addressed in the course of preplanning, in terms of having a plan for how data will be dealt with in the aftermath.
The introduction of a Persons at Risk Database (PARD) type system can resolve some of the difficulties between partners of sharing information in an emergency. Information Sharing Agreements are in place before the incident specifying what and how information will be shared and in what circumstances with the necessary approvals from responsible officers of the participating Category 1 and Category 2 responders.
Identify Professionals from Specialist Services
It is recommended that responders identify functional managers to take forward their functional work in emergencies. They will know best how to adapt their skills, knowledge and expertise to care for people in an emergency. The functional managers should work with the Resilience Partnerships Care for People capability groups to make local arrangements for preparation and response to emergencies.
Relevant specialists from services such as social care, public health, mental health and education should be identified and consulted in the preparation phase so that they can provide advice in the event of specific emergencies.
Family Liaison Officers
The nature of the emergency may require the Police to appoint family liaison officers (FLOs) whose duties are primarily related to investigation. FLOs work closely with the bereaved and may call upon other agencies to provide caring services and support.
The Team will work closely with FLOs and select staff to train with them, share understanding of respective duties and the special needs for confidentiality. Support for the bereaved must be integrated and consistent in both the Police and Care for People Team arrangements.
Category 1 responders should ‘have regard’ to the voluntary sector in their planning under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. They should have in place effective arrangements through which they can engage with the large and diverse voluntary and community sector.
The voluntary sector and community organisations support (including faith-based organisations) can play a significant role in providing humanitarian assistance during an emergency. Experience shows that the active engagement of the voluntary sector and community organisations in emergency preparedness work such as planning, training and exercising enables all responders to be more effective in the event of an emergency.
The roles that voluntary organisations includes but is not limited to offering practical and emotional support in the immediate, medium and longer term. Support can include:
- Emotional support
- Assessment of an individual’s needs
- Bereavement support
- Signposting to other services and organisations
- Call centres
- Support lines
- Advice on loans and claims
- Advocacy services
- Care of pets
- Provision of clothes
- First aid and medication
- Mobility aids
- Community outreach
Social and psychosocial aftercare
- Listening skills
- Support groups
- Spiritual and faith groups
- Support groups
- Extensive personnel and volunteer trained network
- Staffing of support centres (rest centres etc)
- Transport to and from rest centres/hospitals/transport hubs/mortuaries etc
- Transport of homeless
- Disabled passenger vehicles
- Assistance with evacuations to a place of safety
- Specialist vehicles, 4x4s for evacuations, emergency communications vehicles
- Radio and telephone
- Interpretation and translation services
- Resilience radio communications
- Meals on wheels
- Emergency canteens
Voluntary agencies whose staff are providing psychological treatment should liaise with the person’s GP, wherever possible, to ensure a coordinated response to their care.
Community groups and leaders can also promote self-help within affected communities and among vulnerable community members.
As with other aspects of caring for people and managing the recovery following an emergency, the best outcomes are likely to be achieved by working in partnership with the affected people and communities, and by facilitating a high level of self- determination by those affected.
Effective social support plays a vital role in people’s recovery following emergencies. There is evidence that supportive social networks can help people to cope with traumatic events and can protect against the development of stress-related mental illness.
Scottish Government recognises the contribution individuals and communities can make in preparing for emergencies and for a number of years has been promoting individual and community resilience. For example where communities are prone to flooding, people are encouraged to register for flood-warning schemes and to learn the flood-warning codes. In addition, the preparatory work undertaken by local authorities and communities at the planning stage has proved to be very beneficial when an incident occurs. Such communities are more likely to identify what needs to be done prior to the arrival of the emergency services and may feel more confident in their ability to be self-sufficient for a period of time.
Transportation /Organisational Care Teams
A number of agencies within the transport sector have their own organisational care teams, which may be set up in the event of an incident involving their organisation and members of the public. These teams are trained and equipped to respond to the needs of their passengers and others affected by the incident and should not be overlooked. There will be a need to ensure the work carried out by these teams is based on the principles of PFA and that they are given appropriate recognition in the overall structure of response and recovery, particularly if their procedures involve the routine setting up of a Survivor Reception Centre.
Whilst primarily established to respond to transport incidents, consideration could be given to mutual aid in the correct circumstances.