Responding and recovering

Step 2 - Responding and recovering Using your plan What to do when you put your plan into action Your first community meeting Managing your response

Step 2 - Responding and recovering

Using your plan

When an emergency happens, you will need to know how best to use your plan and volunteers.

Keep safe

In any emergency, having a plan is not a substitute for calling 999.

You will have made your local emergency responders aware of your plan as part of your planning process, so in most circumstances you should activate your plan in response to a call from the emergency responders. It is important that any actions which you carry out are co-ordinated with the wider emergency responders’ efforts. You should work with your local emergency responders to identify how they will contact you, and how you should contact them.

In some circumstances, the emergency responders may be unable to contact you. Therefore, you should develop a series of triggers you can use as a community to decide whether to take action.

For example:

  • Have we been able to contact our local emergency responders?
  • What messages are being put out in the media?
  • What can we do safely without the help of the emergency responders?

Action: record the process by which you will activate your plan - page 8 of the Community Emergency Plan

What to do when you put your plan into action

Using your list of skills, people and resources, you will need to decide what you can do to safely work with the emergency responders in the immediate response to an emergency, and a potentially long period of recovery.

Action: Record first steps to take once your plan is activated using the template on page 9 of the Community Emergency Plan

Your first community meeting

It may be possible for you to meet briefly once the plan has been activated. If so, an example of a draft agenda you can use for the first meeting can be downloaded here. The draft agenda is intended to be a guide only. You may find that your team and volunteers are already getting on with helping but it is important to make sure everyone is safe and working in a coordinated way.

Once the plan has been activated it may be useful to keep a record of any decisions or actions, with a note of the reasons this will help you review your plan afterwards.  Keeping a record also makes it easier to brief volunteers and inform other agencies or individuals during an incident.

Managing your response

During an emergency, make time to regularly review the situation to ensure that your actions are still appropriate as things can rapidly change. For example:

  • Is your information up to date?
  • Are you able to establish and maintain contact with your volunteers and other agencies?
  • Can you change your activities to meet new requests for help?
  • Have you planned to ensure your effort can be maintained?
  • Have you informed those around you of the changes in your actions?

 You also need to review the risks and always ensure that volunteers are safe.


During the initial response to an emergency, it might be necessary for some members of your community to be evacuated from their homes to a safe place. Speak to those coordinating this response (normally the police) to see what role your group can play in this.

You may be able to assist with:

  • door knocking or delivery of emergency messages
  • looking after people in a rest centre; or
  • Identifying those who may need extra help to move to safety.


Your group should discuss how you will maintain ongoing and up to date exchange of information with each other, the emergency services and the community.  You will also need to consider what happens if communications are disrupted in the area. You may have access to walkie-talkies or amateur radio groups like the Radio Amateurs’ Emergency Network (RAYNET), or other radio amateurs, that you can use to communicate with each other.

Your group could also consider door knocking as an option to communicate with the public and get the emergency responders’ message across if it is possible to do this safely. You should work with the emergency responders to ensure any messages they are delivering to the community are consistent with those from the emergency responders.

Action: Record alternative communication methods to use during an emergency using the template on page 11 of the Community Emergency Plan

Step 3 - Practising and updating your plan >

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