Civil emergencies – immediate response support

Humanitarian assistance

Major emergencies happen with or without warning, causing or threatening death or injury, damage to property and/or the environment, and disruption to communities. The County and districts councils will be involved in the immediate response to an emergency where there are significant human or environmental concerns, and will gradually assume a greater responsibility once the immediate response by the emergency services is finished and there is a focus on recovery.

Within DEPP we have structures and plans to support the people of Devon, its communities and visitors to the county during an emergency and in the aftermath.

Volunteers are trained to undertake the management and staffing of rest centres, which are led by the relevant local authority depending on the number of evacuees and location.

The County Council are responsible for identifying, managing and staffing a humanitarian assistance centre in the event of a major incident in Devon. Although the pool of  volunteers is draw from across the DEPP membership and the voluntary sector. Our volunteers also provide welfare support in other circumstances.

Evacuation assembly points

These will be set up and managed by the police to gather together those people requiring evacuation to the rest centres, or who need transport out of the area being evacuated. DEPP partners will use volunteers to assist where possible. Evacuation assembly points may be located at a bus stop, for example, or may be under cover in places such as village halls.

Rest centres

Rest centres are a local authority responsibility, and are set up in response to an evacuation where there is no immediate possibility of people returning to their own homes for an unspecified period of time. The primary function of a rest centre is to provide shelter, warmth, refreshments, emotional support and first aid, and to assist evacuees to return to their own homes or on to temporary or longer-term accommodation arranged by the relevant district council.  Rest centres may be staffed by volunteers from a DEPP partner, the NHS, Devon Faith Response Team or the voluntary sector, and can be operational for up to 72 hours.

Survivor and friends and family reception centres

In the event of a major emergency where there has been loss of life or trauma, the police are responsible for establishing and managing these centres and will allocate a family liaison officer to families of the deceased.

A Crisis Support Team, consisting of volunteers from social care, health and other related agencies will assist the police in these centres, providing emotional welfare support to those people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in need of comfort and professional guidance. The team, as a whole, is able to provide signposting, first aid, welfare and faith support.

DEPP is also able to call upon a trained Defuser Team that will be deployed to look after the welfare of our responding volunteers in these two centres and within the humanitarian assistance centre. The humanitarian assistance centre will open as the survivor and family and friends reception centres close; usually within 42-78 hours from the onset of the emergency. Dependent on the severity of the emergency, this could be a physical or a virtual site.

Longer-term support will be provided by signposting to the health community, either through GP surgeries or dedicated adult mental health teams.

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