WOULD an ‘Emergency Plan’ work in Holsworthy?

Martin Rich from Devon Communities Together attended the full council meeting on Wednesday, January 15, to discuss the potential of creating such a plan for the town.

Martin said: “I am a community project advisor. For 50 years we were known as the Community Council for Devon but we got an image change.

“A series of major events including accidents and a rise in terror showed the short comings of the health services, emergency services and all the major players.

“As part of the process of setting up an emergency plan, at a community level, people could help themselves and ease the pressure on the emergency services as providers or emergency responders if there was an incident.”

Martin said there are between 100 and 120 plans for town and parishes already in place. The plan seeks to identify what resources are available in the area: “For example, if there was a bad gale, the plan identifies who has a JCB or a chainsaw — those people who have the resources that can come together to help.”

He added: “There would be a redacted version as you don’t want to tell people who have JCBs or 4x4s — the full version would only be available to the emergency services when needed.”

He said the aim is to put together a small team of people, preferably with experience or knowledge of the emergency services, that can work together to identify local risks and list resources available to tackle them.

Martin said: “There is a standard template of what an Emergency Plan can look like and once this has been completed locally we will upload it to the database so it is available to the emergency services so they can draw that down and work with the local planning team to deploy local resources effectively.

“When the emergency services come in they don’t just take control, they want to work with that team and the local community to use their resources and knowledge.”

Martin informed councillors that Devon Communities Together were able to offer a variety of training opportunities, with a range of training events being held throughout the year. He added that a ‘small amount of funding’ was available to help set up a plan.

Martin said: “We encourage groups to actively plan an emergency response team who will roll up their sleeves and get involved and we provide training for them to use defibrillators and first aid, etcetera.”

He said it would be important to keep any plan up to date and dynamic to ensure the emergency services have the most current local details available to them — and this is where the local team would come in.

Martin welcomed questions from councillors.

Cllr John Allen asked if the local emergency services had been consulted on a potential plan as he feared ‘duplication’ could occur if not.

Martin explained: “The emergency plan team will need to talk to fire, ambulance and police services to find out what is available. The team will identify local resources then identify what you need if you need to respond in a particular way.”

Attending the meeting was PC Amanda Brown. She said: “When we have a major incident the local community are always cooperative providing teas and coffees and support. But I understand in the light of the rise in terrorism why the information needs to be made available.

“I would be happy to sit in on any meeting for the emergency plan.”

Mayor Cllr Jo Heaven asked how many people would be needed for the plan group.

Martin said three or four was usual, with one or two town council representatives being advisable.

Cllr Allen asked: “You mentioned the magic word ‘money’ earlier. What funding would be available?”

Martin said there was £250 available to ‘oil the wheels’, which could be put towards holding a public meeting. He added that if the plan included flood risk as a potential threat there was up to £1,500 available for training purposes.

Assistant to the town clerk, who is a South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) certified first responder, queried the insurance implications for those undertaking the role of first responder as part of the plan.

Martin said a lot of situations would be covered by public liability insurance, adding that he believed under the Good Samaritan law ‘if you pitch in and help you shouldn’t be penalised for it’.

Devon County Council Holsworthy Rural division member Cllr Barry Parsons said: “I am really pleased Martin is here today. I was really interested to hear more about this. I could not be more positive with this.”

The council thanked Martin for his presentation and thought provoking information.