The more that we as individuals and communities can do to prepare ourselves, the more effectively the emergency services can direct their resources.
When an emergency happens, the emergency responders take the lead in supporting communities in dealing with emergencies. These are the “999” services including the police, fire and rescue service, ambulance service, coastguard and other organisations like local authorities and the NHS, as well as voluntary organisations like the British Red Cross and RVS.
Local emergency responders will always have to prioritise those in greatest need during an emergency, especially when life is in danger. During these times, you as a community would benefit from knowing how to help yourself and those around you until assistance arrives.
Having a Community Emergency Plan does not mean that your group should or could replace the emergency responders. However, in a severe emergency situation, the emergency responders cannot be everywhere at once. They will always have to prioritise people in greatest need, especially where lives are at risk.
It is important to note that the plan is not in any way a method by which a local authority or an emergency service may reduce its response or service to the community, the plan is intended to support and enhance the response.
We have put together a step by step guide to preparing a Community Emergency Plan, from getting started, to practicing your plan, and we have created templates for you to download to help you do this.
Being aware of the risks that you as a community may encounter and who within your community might be able to assist you, could make your community better prepared to cope with an emergency.
Communities can deal with local issues, for example:
- the clearing of snow from pathways of people who are unable to do this themselves
- the clearing of snow from school and nursery access routes and playgrounds
- flood prevention in risk areas e.g. sandbags
- providing hot meals and assistance within community centres and village halls
- checking on neighbours to ensure their safety and well-being during severe weather
Within your community, vulnerable people who may already be using services become more vulnerable in an emergency situation and those that no-one thought of as vulnerable may well become so.
It is important to remember that you should never do anything which puts you or anyone else in your community at risk.