Team member Steve O’Hara’s personal report following his attendance on Multi Agency Introduction to Civil Contingencies course on Thursday 3rd April 2014

We reported on Thursday 3rd April 2014, that Team Call Out list member Steve O’Hara attended at the kind invitation of Bolton Council, a day long course regarding Multi Agency Introduction to Civil Contingencies.
This was the sixth 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 at the time, Elaine Gilliland and Team Vehicles Officer at the time Chris Greenhalgh attended, Thursday 13th September 2012, when our Catering and Base Officer at the time Chris Tennant attended, Thursday 11th April 2013, when our Team Treasurer Martin Banks attended and Thursday 10th October 2013, when Paul Copley and Nick Berry 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 knowledgeable 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.

The team would like to thank the Civil Contingencies Unit of Bolton Council for yet again very kindly providing us with placements on this valuable and topical course.

There folllows Steve O’Hara’s personal account of this course;

Last Thursday (3rd April 2014) I was invited to attend a Multi Agency Introduction to Civil Contingencies Course organised by Bolton Council. This took place at the Education Centre at the Royal Bolton Hospital. I wasn’t to sure what to expect from this course or even exactly what it would involve, but having spoken to some of my colleagues within the team who had attended this course previously and had given it excellent reviews, I decided to give it a go and see what it was all about.

On arrival I met Cath Nally and Debbie Hinsley and having signed in and being assigned a table, I then went into the Lecture room where Tea and Coffee was available and I met some of the delegates and what turned out to be my team mates from table 3. Each table was made up of a mixture of representatives from the different emergency services, council and voluntary agencies.

We then got down to the serious business of the course. Jimmy Tunn welcomed us all formally and then asked us to go around the room and introduce ourselves and which organisation we were representing. We were then 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.

We were then split into 4 teams with each table having to pick an item from a lucky bag draw that would represent an emergency service or the council. Having picked out a toy bin wagon my table we became the local council! There then followed a brief quiz, lateral thinking being the key, where I’m pleased to say that I did quite well in! An example I’ve given below:

Cross out six letters from the following sequence, so that the remaining letters without altering the sequence, spell a well-known word.

BSIANXLAETNTAERS

Answer in the comments section below…

We were then given a presentation as to the background of Civil Contingencies and what events had lead up to the need for such. This included the disaster at Burden Park shortly after the war and the Winter Hill Plane Crash in the 1950’s for a local view on the ‘story’.

We then went on to examine the Command & Control structure as it occurs during a Major Incident and the different levels of such (Gold, Silver and Bronze), should a large event occur and where these Command and Control Centres are currently placed. This was quickly followed by a presentation 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. It was during this break I was asked by Cath to give a brief overview of what Bolton Mountain Rescue does and its capabilities. So when it came to talking about Voluntary Agencies and the roles that they can play, I followed representatives from the Council of Mosques and the British Red Cross (both of which by the way have excellent resources that I hadn’t thought of!). I explained to my fellow delegates about the team, our vehicles, equipment and training. About the types of roles we had undertaken with each of the emergency services and that we were lucky in the fact that we get such good support from our colleagues in these services with the provision of our base and vehicle storage at NWAS Headquarters at Ladybridge, the use of storage garages for some of our vehicles at Bolton North and Central Fire Stations as provided by GMFRS and the use of Airwave handsets as provided by GMP. (Once again folks, if you’re reading this, many thanks!)

The process of evacuation was the next to be 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.

Then it was time for lunch which was an excellent buffet, with plenty of food for everyone with the Fire, Police and MR, seemingly eating most of the cream cakes and sandwiches!

After lunch it was then back to group work where we had to decide, from a large number of options, what were the twelve (12) roles & responsibilities applicable to our group. This got quite competitive but was a fun way of learning about the different roles and responsibilities of each service. My team unfortunately came last, maybe because it was mostly made up of emergency services personnel, so it just goes to show you how worthy this course was in opening our eyes to the bigger picture!

Then followed a talk on the operation of Fire Services’ 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 Kitty 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.

I would like to send my thanks to Debbie, Cath and Jimmy for their work in setting up and presenting an excellent course and for inviting me on it. Also I’d like to say thank you to the wonderful facilitators for giving well presented and very informative presentations and the final and most probably the biggest thanks has got to go to my wonderful soon to be wife, Ellise, who supports me with all that I do within Mountain Rescue, even to the point that while I attended the course she was just across the way in maternity in what appeared to be the early stages of labour of our sixth child!

Please also see website ‘News’ items dated 15th June 2010, 23rd November 2010, 13th September 2012, 11th April 2013, 21st April 2013, 10th October 2013 and 3rd April 2014.