As well as physical impacts, major incidents can have a lasting psycho-social effect on communities and individuals. Some areas may not return to exactly how they were prior to the incident, and the transition to a new normality can be a difficult one. Decisions made early in the response process can have lasting ramifications in the months and years that follow and enable a good recovery. The Scottish Government is likely to take an early interest in the recovery, public reassurance and the support of continuity of essential services.
Response and recovery are intimately bound together and, while the emergency response will usually be the initial focus, both should be considered from the outset of an incident, and the communications leads for both response and recovery involved in all PCG meetings.
Once the immediate emergency response has concluded, there may be a formal handover where the chair of a PCG passes from the responding agency (for instance Police Scotland) to the lead agency for recovery (for instance the local authority).
At the heart of a good recovery is a focus on ensuring that individuals and communities are supported, heard, and treated with dignity and respect. This can begin early in the incident by ensuring that their basic needs are met, and in the longer term through ongoing support.
This could involve the opening of rest centres, the co-ordination of practical support and assistance, the organisation of public events, and the promotion and recognition of unity and resilience.
Many of these issues are not communications decisions in isolation but will require close working between communicators and operational leads to agree and implement.
More information on the role of the PCG in recovery can be found in the dedicated guidance Preparing Scotland - Recovering from Emergencies in Scotland.