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How can your local community be prepared?

It is clear that for some major incidents the emergency services may not be at the scene for a period of time, plus if it is a widespread incident then their resources may be stretched and not able to get to all communities as quickly as may be wished.

It is proven that if communities are prepared for emergencies, they not only mitigate the effects of the incident but respond quicker and more effectively. This section explains how you can join or start a community resilience scheme in your area.

Get prepared

Community resilience encourages people to plan for local risks and be prepared to help themselves as a community if affected by an emergency. Experience has shown that, sometimes due to the scale and nature of an emergency, the normal response provided by the emergency services and the local authorities can be delayed. On these occasions anything the local community can do to support each other will help them deal with the emergency more effectively.

Communities could be based on town or parish geographic areas or smaller areas if it is felt it is needed due to a specific risk in the area. Community resilience measures can be as little as just having a designated point of contact within the parish who can receive warnings and messages from emergency services and local authorities. The plan can grow over time to include areas such as:

  • A parish emergency planning team
  • Community buildings which can be used as emergency evacuation facilities
  • Knowledge of skills and expertise within the community
  • Knowledge of special equipment or vehicles within the community
  • Identification of vulnerable premises and people within the local area
  • Specific actions based on specific risks

Contact your Local Council to find out more information on how to develop a community plan

Find your Local Council

The key thing for any community plan is to make sure it is fit for your local needs. You can make it as generic as you like with annexes or as specific as your community requires. A question to help you challenge if it will work is ask the question ‘What if?‘

Individuals and communities may need to help each other in an emergency. Lots of communities already help each other in times of need. Those that spend time planning for emergencies are able to deal with them better and recover faster. This does not mean creating a whole new community network or a one-off response to an incident. It is an ongoing process to improve emergency preparedness. We are keen to encourage communities to write their own community emergency plans. There is no statutory responsibility for these groups to plan for, respond to, or recover from emergencies.

However, it is good practice for communities to identify hazards and make simple plans on how they can respond to an emergency. The ways emergency planning can help your community are:

  • By identifying local risks, resources, and vulnerable people
  • Using local resources to help in the response, providing support to emergency services
  • Helping those that are vulnerable and providing care, support, information, or practical help
  • By initiating a group to provide a point of contact and determine priorities
  • Maintaining communications within the community and with the council
  • Managing the response of parish or town voluntary organisations
  • Representing the community
  • Assisting with community recovery

People in resilient communities are aware of the risks that may affect them. This helps them to take action to prepare for the consequences of emergencies resilient communities work in partnership with their local authority, and other relevant organisations. These relationships ensure that the community complement the work of the emergency services, and it is done safely members of resilient communities are involved in influencing and making decisions affecting them. They take an interest in their community and act in its best interest Here are some links to resources which may help you and your community form an emergency plan:

Preparing for Emergencies: Guide for Communities This guide will help you take the first steps towards emergency planning

Community Emergency Plan Toolkit. This is a step-by-step guide to help you and your community produce a Community Emergency Plan

Community Emergency Plan Template This template is for you to fill in the details of your community emergency preparations

Read more here: The Community Resilience agenda

Community emergency plan

What goes into a plan? The steps to writing a plan are simple: 

  1. Consider the risks that might affect your community – some places may be particularly prone to flooding or power failure, for others, it may be snow. 
  2. Consider your local resources – make a list of the resources and skills within the community. 
  3. Safe locations – consider the places where people may gather if they cannot stay at home. 
  4. Emergency contact list – gather the contact details of the people who will play a part in the local response. 
  5. How to help vulnerable people – a list of people who might be able to identify residents needing particular help during an emergency. 
  6. Activation triggers and first actions – an agreement of what will trigger use of the plan and what actions to take first.

Voluntary and Community Groups set out how their community will work together to prepare for, respond to and recover from key risks. It is important they know how to act, prepare, and are trained to respond, to help others in an emergency make their capabilities known to public sector agencies and work alongside responder organisations. 

Business Continuity Planning for Voluntary & Community Groups

Useful Links