The British Red Cross (BRC) have cross-service involvement with the PrepAGE project, with Johanna Phillips leading on the project from a National Emergency Planning and Response perspective and Rebecca Eastick leading from a National Independent Living perspective. Olivia Burke from Emergency Planning and Response is supporting on the project (please see the leaflet of the project here).
The BRC have also had involvement from the operational area Hampshire, Surrey and Isle of Wight and Surrey County Council, who will be supporting with the Community Based Exercise.
Johanna Phillips is an experienced emergency planning and international development professional with a post graduate Masters in Human Rights (LSE). She has been a part of the British Red Cross National Emergency Planning and Response Team for over 8 years and in that time she has been involved in the management and coordination of a range of responses in the UK (flooding, severe weather, flu pandemic) and overseas (PST deployments, Zimbabwe resettlement programme). A qualified PRINCE2 practitioner, Johanna has a wealth of experience managing and implementing strategic projects in the UK and EU arena in order to establish an increase in the capacity and capability of the organisation’s emergency planning and response function.
Rebecca Eastick is Programme Manager of the Independent Living team. She is responsible for the implementation of a development plan for health and social care services in the UK and works to ensure that 20 local area teams are involved in the developments and supported to implement changes to practice. She is also a British Red Cross volunteer and supports people to regain their independence following a stay in hospital.
Before joining the British Red Cross in 2011 she worked as a project manager organising translations into English of the verbatim reports from the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice.
Olivia Burke is an Assistant Emergency Planning Officer who joined the British Red Cross National Emergency Planning and Response Team in May 2014. She provides project support to the Head of Department and Emergency Planning Officers for National and European projects. Olivia also plans and coordinates Emergency Planning and Response events for the National Team and has had a key role in the UK National Workshop and Community-based Exercise.
The UK National Workshop
The British Red Cross National Workshop was held on 13 April 2015 in the British Red Cross UK Office, London. 25 delegates from across the UK Emergency Planning and Response and Health and Social Care sector attended the workshop and participated in a lively and insightful discussion focused on the needs of older people in an emergency.
The workshop was focussed on four main objectives:
- Examine and raise awareness of older people’s needs and strengths in emergencies
- Examine the current policy context in the UK concerning older people and emergency planning and response
- Identify gaps and challenges in emergency management policy and procedures which account for the needs of older people at a local, national and organisational level and compare best practice
- Identify policy recommendations, structures and measures for the integration of the specific needs of older people into emergency planning, response and recovery
Delegates listened to and received three presentations at the outset of the workshop which aimed to introduce them to the project, its aims and objectives; provide an overview of the empirical and desk-top research findings; explore the current policy content for emergency response and health and social care in the UK.
Following this, delegates were split into four groups. Each group was designated a facilitator and were asked, reflecting on the presentation of the research results and policy context, to identify gaps and challenges in UK emergency management policy and procedures which account for the needs of older people and access to older people at a local, national and organisational level.
Each group addressed this question by focussing on one aspect of the emergency management cycle – planning, preparedness, response, recovery – for a period of 15 minutes before rotating and moving on to the next one. After one hour, a synopsis of the conversations was fed back by the facilitator in a final plenary session.
The UK Community-based Exercise
The British Red Cross Community-based Exercise was held on 29th September 2015 in Woking, Surrey.
50 delegates, aged over 65 attended the event entitled ‘Be prepared – empowering adults in local emergencies’. The event was also attended by representatives from the Police, Fire Service, Local Authority, Utilities Company, Environment Agency, the Mayor and Mayoress of Woking and Age Concern.
The exercise was focussed on three main objectives:
- To identify and raise awareness of the needs of older people in an emergency in order to inform PrepAGE recommendations
- To raise awareness of the services available locally which older people can access to prepare for and withstand an emergency
- To enhance the preparedness of older people in an emergency
The day comprised of three sections; ‘Helping us to help you’, ‘Helping you to help yourself’, and ‘Be Prepared’.
‘Helping us to help you’ was a scenario based exercise based on a fictitious flooding situation. There were four injects which built the severity of the scenario, beginning with the initial issuing of a flood alert, progressing through a power outage and evacuation, and concluding with the return to homes with minor damage. At each inject delegates were asked to discuss within their groups three things:
- What their needs would be at this time
- What actions they would take in each situation
- What their concerns would be
‘Helping you to help yourself’ was a panel discussion based around the needs and concerns that were raised by delegates during the scenario exercise. The panel, comprised of representatives from the Police, Fire Service, Local Authorities, Utilities Company and the Environment Agency addressed the issues raised.
‘Be Prepared’ was a market place style exercise where delegates were invited to visit the stalls of different services and organisations, and gain information and advice on areas including basic first aid, home and fire safety and preparing emergency kits. Every delegate was given a British Red Cross emergency kit to take home with them.
The event was well received. Here are some quotes from delegates:
“I just wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ for the ‘Be Prepared’ event last Tuesday. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learnt a lot. The organisation was excellent, as was the lunch. We are busy people, but this was time well spent. Please pass on our thanks to everyone else involved in making it a rewarding day.”
“Thank you for that event yesterday. It was both instructive and enjoyable.”
“Just want to say thank you, for looking after us so well yesterday, and please also pass on our thanks to all the others that helped to make the meeting a complete success”
“We both thoroughly enjoyed the event today and were really glad that we had the opportunity to go. Good to have the chance to ask questions of the panel as well and certainly came away much informed. Mostly it is common sense but as people get older they get more muddled and need others who care enough to want to help. I think the overall point of concern was communication and more of it. I was surprised about some areas that I didn’t know anything about…we do tend to take so much for granted. Lastly the refreshments were lovely and particularly the lunch which we did so enjoy.”
“Thank you and your colleagues from the various statutory and voluntary organisations for a most interesting and informative day – we learnt a lot, which we hope not to have to put into practice! However, if we do, we shall be much better prepared than we would otherwise have been. We are also passing on what we have learnt to our friends and neighbours.”