How it Works
Arran has over 120 committed and enthusiastic emergency responders, including Fire & Rescue, First Responders, Mountain Rescue, RNLI and the Coastguard. In October 2010 a liaison group was set up, comprising the leaders and deputy leaders of each team. This group formed the basis of Arran Resilience.
The group now meets on a regular basis to develop ever-improving communication between the emergency teams, and look at issues such as shared training opportunities and awareness of each team’s capabilities. One of the first products of the group was a Resilience Handbook, detailing the contact details, equipment, manpower and skills of each team. It was the first time that these details had been collated into one document.
An email group has been established so that team leaders can be contacted quickly and information disseminated effectively. This is free and easy to maintain, and includes local teams as well as key contacts on the mainland.
It is recognised that sharing resources can open up useful training opportunities for other teams. For example, the fire service does not have many trainer defibrillators on the island, but this is something that First Responders and the Hospital/HeartStart are able to assist with. In return the Fire & Rescue Service have been able to assist the Coastguard in rope access and abseiling training, and running extrication demonstrations for the ambulance service, BASICS GPs and others.
During Arran’s quieter months (February/March) we aim to offer a number of workshops all over the island, inviting responders from all groups to meet up. During these evening sessions, we provided refreshers on CPR, training on triage and scene safety, and gained valuable local insight which will be fed back into the Major Incident Plan. Over sixty responders from all teams have attended these workshops.
Major Incident Planning
The response to a major incident is defined to some extent by statutory responsibilities of emergency teams. Tailoring this to local needs however can be more difficult, and given Arran’s relative remoteness from the mainland, we have sought to develop a more effective local plan that could at least be activated until a mainland response is available. We know that this would be at least an hour, assuming perfect weather conditions and available helicopters. At other times a much greater delay could be experienced, so it makes sense to utilise local skills and resources with greatest impact.
The response to Major Incidents in Strathclyde is overseen by the Strathclyde Emergencies Co-ordination Group. Recently, they have agreed to a local Major Incident Plan being developed specifically for Arran, and we expect this to develop along with the local NHS Major Incident Plan in the next few months. For Arran, a major incident could constitute any scenario involving more than several casualties, however there is a wealth of local resource available if activated appropriately.
When discussing the issue with experienced colleagues in other areas, the one aspect of major incidents that causes greatest concern is communication and having adequate procedures in place to ensure that teams are mobilised and co-ordinated effectively and safely. In essence, this highlights the need for robust command & control structures and this is one aspect of Arran Resilience that we have been working on in particular.
Already some novel concepts have been developed to address this, including designated Strategic Holding Areas across the island. You can read more about these here.