Multi Agency Introduction to Civil Contingencies Course, attended today by Team member Chris Tennant

Today very experienced team member Chris Tennant attended at the kind invitation of Bolton Council a day long course regarding Multi Agency Introduction to Civil Contingencies. This is the third time the team has attended this course, the first being 15th June 2010, when our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE attended, followed by the 23rd November 2010 course when our Team Training Officer Elaine Gilliland and Team Vehicles Officer Chris Greenhalgh attended.

Held at the excellent venue of the Education Centre at Royal Bolton Hospital, Bolton, the course attracted many participants from the statutory and voluntary emergency sector and agencies, including very knowlegdable course facilitators and session presenters.

The course objectives included;

  • To understand the context and implications of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and the statutory duties it places on Category 1 and 2 responders.
  • To become familiar with the role of all agencies involved in planning, preparing for and responding to emergencies.
  • To share knowledge and understanding with other local agencies.
  • To learn from previous experiences of responding to emergencies.

Chris reported on the wide variety of agencies present and the very informative and interesting course content, together with the excellence of the presenters.

The following report on todays course has been made by Chris Tennant, dated Wednesday 19th September 2012.

“What is a Civil Contingency and how many and what Agencies are/would be involved, I had an idea but was it correct. Thus it was with a certain amount of confusion (no change there I hear some of the more uncharitable members of the team say) that I made my way to the Education Centre at the Royal Bolton Hospital last Thursday to attend a Multi Agency Introduction to Civil Contingencies Course organised by Bolton Council. Having signed in I was directed to the Lounge where Tea and Coffee were available. Already there were a group of policemen, from various sections of the local GMP Force; well that I expected but the next two to arrived were not so – a chap from RAYNET and a lady from the ’Sally Ann’ (Salvation Army). However, a moments thought suggested that, yes, they would be required in a large scale ‘event’.

With most delegates now at hand we moved to the Lecture Room, where we split into four groups: called Police, Fire, Hospital and Council. Following a welcome by Cath Nally and Jimmy Tunn we were shown a Video of what were classed as Civil Contingencies, ranging from the Cumbrian floods, the Grayrigg train crash, the Buncefield fire and the Lockerbie plane crash.

There then followed a brief quiz, lateral thinking being the key, with a certain amount of good natured arguing between the groups as to what was right and wrong – unfortunately for my group, the police – the organisers word was final!

We were then given a background to why the examples seen on the video were in fact civil emergencies. For the ’story’ doesn’t stop once the casualties are all attended to, the fires are out and the police have completed any forensic work; hence the inclusion of the Lockerbie plane crash in the film. This had surprised me by its inclusion as I assumed that it was just a terrorist outrage. However, this had a massive effect on a large number of ordinary people unconnected with the immediate disaster – the inhabitants of Lockerbie – for even those who were uninjured suffered due to the lost of their homes etc.

We then went on to examine the Command & Control structure as it occurs during a Major Incident, followed by talks from Inspector Ian Parker (GMP), GMFRS Station Commander Wayne Guffogg and Neil Peters from NWAS on the statutory emergency services roles and responsibilities.

A welcome break for tea & biscuits intervened before Jimmy Tunn and Cath Nally continued with roles and responsibilities – Hospital and the Council respectively.

The process of evacuation was the covered. This is not just the process of removing casualties from the incident site but also moving not only the uninjured to a Survivor Reception Centre, but also those who needed to be evacuated from the vicinity for example because of house damage or the possibility of contamination. Also required is the setup of a Casualty Bureau – to enable details to be acquired of the casualties and also to help those from outside the disaster area to find out about relatives that may have been involved. Further to this was the setting up of rest centres where the evacuees could be given temporary accommodation, along with clothing, washing facilities, and other welfare needs.

After lunch, an excellent buffet, with plenty of food for the usual gannets (Fire, Police and MR), we reassembled for a talk on Operation Giraffe given by Major Eric Larett. This was in connection with the Cumbrian Floods, when the Army surveyed and built a foot bridge across the still swollen River Derwent, a footbridge so that the people could get between the two, flood isolated, halves of Cockermouth.

It was then back to group work where we had to decide, from a large number of options, what were the ten (10) roles & responsibilities applicable to our group.

Then followed a talk on the operation of Fire Services’s hazardous materials section; there being one HDIM vehicle based in Greater Manchester. This can be on scene, with two highly trained crew, very quickly to identify and then advise on how to deal with hazardous materials.

The final tea break was followed by a talk on Counter Terrorism by Kate Marsh from the GMP Counter Terrorism Unit. This was about what the ordinary person can do in being aware of what a terrorist does before the event, ie reconnaissance and procurement of materials.

The final piece of the Contingencies jigsaw was then presented, that of recovery management ie to get people back in their homes and helping businesses to recover from disruption.

Another team quiz, to reinforce all the things we had learnt today, preceded questions, evaluation and closing remarks, and I left, somewhat tired but certainly wiser.

Many thanks to Cath and Jimmy for their work in setting up and presenting the Course and for inviting me on it.”

The team would like to thank the Civil Contingencies Unit of Bolton Council for yet again kindly offering us a placement on this valuable and topical course.

Please also see website news reports dated Tuesday 15th June 2010 and Tuesday 23rd November 2010.