This is a guest blog written by John Beresford (Senior Resilience Co-ordinator on the East of Scotland Resilience Co-ordination Team).
My name is John Beresford and I am the Senior Resilience Co-ordinator on the East of Scotland Resilience Co-ordination team. The Scottish Government has three of these teams which are aligned with the East, West and North Regional Resilience Partnerships (RRPs). The RRP’s are created by the Civil Contingencies Act (2004) which also defines categories of ‘responders’ – organisations who have certain duties and responsibilities in preparation for and in response to national emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the pandemic, we have become aware of the fantastic work being done by the community side of the voluntary sector that we do not often engage with, co-ordinated by the TSI’s. Recognising we have a gap in our knowledge and therefore capability, we are keen to build on the links which COVID has created for us and wanted to share more details about what we do with our voluntary sector partners.
The Civil Contingencies Act places certain duties on responders and those in Categories 1 and 2 are required to cooperate and share information in planning for and response to civil contingencies incidents.
Category 1 responders: Police, Fire, Ambulance, Local Authorities, NHS Boards, SEPA, Maritime & Coastguard Agency. (There is currently a consultation to give Health and Social Care Partnerships Category 1 status in Scotland.)
Category 2 responders (co-operating bodies): Utility companies, Transport authorities and providers, NHS NSS, Health and Safety Executive
The third group of responders or Key Stakeholders is where we (for the Scottish Government) and the voluntary sector come in. These groups meet as Local Resilience Partnerships (LRPs) to plan for civil contingencies events, and then in activation mode to respond to their consequences. They include: Met Office, Faith Groups, Industry, Military, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Communities.
Each of the three Regional Co-ordination teams is made up of a Senior Co-ordinator, two Resilience Co-ordinators and a Learning and Development Co-ordinator. We are Scottish Government employees, but are in place to support the resilience partnerships and their members in a number of ways. For example
- Co-ordinators facilitate the all-important relationship building with partners, which maintains trust and encourages inclusion in the resilience effort. They provide co-ordination support for the Regional and Local Resilience Partnership structures to ensure the right people are brought to the table to discuss the relevant issues at appropriate meetings, sharing out tasks/responsibilities in order to effect better outcomes – the ethos of ‘right people, right place, right time.’This helps share knowledge, address capability gaps, and build resilience across the full range of risks more effectively.
- In ‘response’ mode, the Co-ordinators can also maintain the crucial Scottish Government Liaison Officer (SGLO) role, which allows them to provide accurate and detailed briefings to the Scottish Government Resiliance Room (SGoRR) with good awareness/knowledge of responder activities. Accurate, timely, consistent information allows Ministers to tailor messages towards improved public confidence.
- Provide 24/7 on call communication and information links between SGoRR and Category 1 and 2 responders in civil contingencies matters. Co-ordinators provide SGORR duty officer colleagues with information so they can produce briefings for Ministers. The role of the co-ordinator may include attendance at a Multi-Agency Coordination Centre (MACC) as well as participation in Resilience Partnership meetings in order to report back to SGoRR. Co-ordinators ‘on-call’ may work with the lead agency to organise, assist facilitate and co-ordinate multi-agency meetings in support of on-going response to incidents.
- Co-ordinate multi-agency training, debriefing and gathering of lessons learned across their areas.
Another part of our division is the Scottish Resilience Development Service (ScoRDS) who are our training, debriefing and ‘lessons learned’ experts. They deliver training on the Integrated Emergency Management model used in response to emergencies in Scotland, and like me are keen that TSI’s engage with their programme.
They have just launched an online training hub which we would encourage you to sign up to.