We all plan for emergencies all the time - we may not do it consciously but we do it nevertheless. For example, if before you go on holiday you check that appliances are turned off, you've done some emergency planning. Having undertaken a risk assessment, an identification of the hazards and a decision on the steps to be taken to reduce the risk. We also plan how to respond to an emergency by, for example, keeping a first aid box at home or in the car - just in case.
Local Authorities have a responsibility to the community to carry out emergency planning in case of a major emergency. To do this the council works with a number of different organisations in Kent, from the emergency services to private, public and voluntary organisations.
All of these organisations plan for emergencies too, often overlapping with The Council. For example, the Environment Agency is responsible for dealing with pollution and so is Swale Borough Council. To ensure that both organisations work and respond to an emergency in a coordinated way it is necessary for them to plan and train together.
Swale Borough Council undertakes two kinds of emergency planning. First, how to deal with known hazards such as flooding or shore pollution where the area at risk has been identified, the response required from the council identified and planned for.
Second, how to deal with the unknown, random emergency. Once more the area at risk is identified and a response planned by asking what could happen, why, when, where and how. In each case, the council services that would be needed are identified and plans made showing how they would be used. The council plan is coordinated, not just to show how the council's teams would work together, but also how they would cooperate with external agencies that may be involved, such as the emergency services and utilities.
Training is an important part of the planning process. All organisations are made up of people who need to know what is expected of them in the event of an emergency. An emergency is not the time to try and do something that is unfamiliar. Training helps people to cope more effectively and efficiently in a crisis because they know how to respond and what to do.
Emergency plans are built around people carrying out their normal jobs, although they may be required to do that job in a different place, such as an emergency centre, police station or at the scene of an incident. In order that practical and workable strategies are developed ordinary people must be included in the planning process to ensure that the plans can be understood by any one who needs to refer to them. The emergency plan should be tested to be sure that it will be effective in a real emergency.
Emergency plans and arrangements for dealing with major emergencies in the Swale Council area can be put into place at anytime, day or night.
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