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October 2017

Activation and Coordination

Activation and Coordination

Activation – Resilience Partnership

There are various options for initiating activation of a Resilience Partnership (RP):

  • Duty Officer Police Area Control Room (ACR) activates the RP on the basis of available information
  • Responder contacts the Duty Officer Police ACR who activates the RP
  • Responder contacts the duty or/on call Police Emergencies Procedure Advisor (EPA) who activates the RP
  • Responder contacts the Resilience Coordinator who activates the RP
  • Responder contacts the LRP secretariat (or similar body) which activates the RP.

Any RRP member can request that a Resilience Partnership (RP) be activated to prepare for or respond to an incident or emergency.

Those initiating the activation should liaise and agree the level of coordination needed and the organisations or individuals required to attend the meeting. They should agree the location and format of the meeting, including whether teleconferencing is appropriate.

The Resilience Coordinator, duty EPA or secretariat representative should be available to arrange and if necessary facilitate the RP meeting. The Scottish Government Resilience Division on call duty officer (or SGoRR if already in operation) should be advised of any arrangements in place.

Activation - SGoRR

On receipt of information pertaining to a spontaneous or non-spontaneous incident of sufficient scale, Scottish Government officials may:

  • Consider activation of SGoRR to monitor or respond to event
  • Advise all stakeholders if SGoRR is activated
  • Liaise with RP(s) through Resilience Coordinators or, in their absence, the duty EPA for details of intended actions/update
  • Liaise with police on call EPA for details of intended actions/update
  • Liaise with internal/external stakeholders for intended actions/update
  • Consider deployment of a Scottish Government Liaison Officer (SGLO)
  • Determine a coordinated meeting schedule and the levels of involvement required
  • Collate situation updates and circulate a situation report to all stakeholders, including Ministers.

Coordination Activities

Multi-agency co-ordination activity undertaken by responding RP members may include:

  • Assess and reduce prevailing risks
  • Consider welfare, health and safety of the public and responder personnel
  • Support rescue operations
  • Identify and address issues requiring immediate attention
  • Collate information from organisations involved to develop shared situational awareness
  • Determine which organisations require to be involved in multi-agency response
  • Agree management structures for response
  • Agree strategic objectives
  • Agree tactical priorities
  • Consider resource demand, immediately and in the future
  • Develop public and internal communications (where a specific sub-group is not in place)
  • Identify and develop contingencies for wider consequences
  • Progress actions.

Specialist Meetings/Sub-groups

Some incidents by dint of scale or circumstance will require specialist support structures or sub-groups. This might include, for instance:

  • Scientific and Technical Advice Cell
  • Public Communications sub-group
  • Care for People sub-group
  • Recovery sub-group.

Some members of these groups will also participate in other meetings and care should be taken to ensure that these individuals have sufficient time to undertake actions. This will be achieved through the use of deputies and/or meetings being carefully aligned with the broader schedule.

Casualty and fatality handling

Where there has been a significant number of fatalities, responders will face additional responsibilities in areas such as body recovery, body identification and support of the next of kin. Further information on this can be found in regional plans and ‘Preparing Scotland: Guidance on dealing with mass fatalities in Scotland’.

Casualty handling can extend from initial triage at the scene through to arrival in hospital and beyond. Whilst led by the Scottish Ambulance Service and the responding territorial Health Board, assistance may be required from a range of responder agencies to facilitate the response. Further guidance can be found in the ‘Mass Casualties Incident Plan for NHS Scotland’. From a public communications perspective there needs to be a clear understanding of who provides definitive information on casualties to other agencies and to the media.

Support and Care for People

Support and Care for People is a crucial element of any response. Those affected by emergencies can include:

  • The injured
  • The dead
  • The bereaved
  • Those directly involved but uninjured
  • Families and friends of those directly involved
  • Vulnerable people (including the elderly, the young, those with medical conditions and others disproportionally affected due to their personal circumstances)
  • Affected communities, which could be defined by geography, demographics or common interests
  • Those indirectly involved who may need support or reassurance
  • Responder personnel.

The list shown above is not comprehensive and the impact on people will depend on the individual and the particular circumstances of an emergency.

The response and support functions involved are extensive and complex and the need to ensure sustainability in resourcing is vital. Co-ordinated planning for related regional and local arrangements should be seen as a high priority. This should include having due regard for resourcing the heavy documentation and record- keeping involved.

Depending on the emergency concerned, supporting and caring for people can embrace a wide range of facilities and functions. Examples include:

  • Casualty clearing stations
  • Receiving hospitals
  • Emergency mortuary
  • Rest centres
  • Survivor reception centres
  • Family and friends reception centres
  • Humanitarian assistance centres
  • Casualty bureau.
  • Support in the community.

Further information on this can be found in ‘Preparing Scotland: Care for people affected by emergencies’, and supplementary annex, ‘Responding to the psychosocial and mental health needs of people affected by emergencies’.

As recovery becomes the main focus, support and care for people may be undertaken under the auspices of a recovery group but it should continue for as long as necessary, not just in the immediate response phase.

Public Communications

Police Scotland will generally be the co-ordinating agency with regard to public communications. However, in some instances, for example a public health emergency, another agency may lead. The lead agency should be agreed by responders at an early juncture.

All responding agencies should ensure that public communications messaging is consistent and does not conflict with messaging from other agencies. This is particularly important in terms of safety advice to the public and when numbers of deceased and injured at an incident are being reported. In circumstances where the incident is linked to criminal conduct, responders must ensure that public communications do not compromise any investigation or sub judice matters. Advice on this can be obtained from either the police or Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service representatives.

At the handover of the incident from response to recovery the local authority will become responsible for co-ordinating the public communications effort.

Information and guidance can be found in ‘Preparing Scotland : Warning and Informing Scotland: Communicating with the Public’

Community Impact and Reassurance

For many incidents it may be considered appropriate to examine community impact and reassurance measures. This may apply to both the broader community and specific groups such as ethnic minority, religious or vulnerable groups.

Community impact assessment and subsequent reassurance strategies are likely to be of significant importance in the event of a terrorist attack, public disorder or violent protests.

In the event of terrorism, Police Scotland will usually lead (in conjunction with partners) on developing a community impact assessment. This will consider an evaluation and assessment of community tensions, who is affected, potential impacts and plans for mitigation. Mitigation measures might include; public reassurance messages, meetings with vulnerable groups to hear their concerns and offer further reassurance; increased police patrolling in certain areas and the use of trusted community voices.

However, community impact and reassurance may also be required in the event of other types of incident (not just terrorism), and may involve consideration of dangerous buildings, continued provision of essential services, and pollution control, and any required communications locally. Some of this activity may be undertaken under the auspices of a Recovery sub-group.


Recovery is usually led by the local authority in whose area the incident has arisen. If more than one area is affected local authorities may agree a lead authority.

Recovery is a co-ordinated process of supporting affected communities in the reconstruction of the physical infrastructure and restoration of emotional, social, economic and physical well-being.

The manner in which recovery is undertaken is critical to its success. It is best achieved when the affected community is able to exercise a high degree of self- determination and contribute to the process.

In order to influence the response in an appropriate manner, the recovery process needs to be considered by any activated Resilience Partnership from the earliest stages of an incident. A discussion about the formation of a specific Recovery Group, or how recovery issues will be effectively covered, should take place at the first meeting.

Further detailed information can be found in Preparing Scotland document ‘Recovering from Emergencies in Scotland’.

Provision of scientific and technical advice

The STAC will be the main mechanism for coordinating multi-agency specialist advice to assist decision-makers. STAC will cover public health, environmental, scientific and technical issues. Protection of public health should be a foremost concern as part of any coordinated emergency response.

Where appropriate, a STAC should be established at an early stage of an emergency/incident to allow time to anticipate the range of impacts which could occur. In this context the STAC has a proactive role and should actively consider “what if” scenarios, rather than being solely reactive.

STAC will usually be formed at the request of the lead responding organisation. The Director of Public Health (DPH) or the duty Consultant in Public Health Medicine (CPHM) for the relevant NHS Board will normally chair STAC meetings.

Further information can be found within the ‘Preparing Scotland: STAC Guidance’.

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