Have you ever wondered what would happen if we had a severe winter that made our roads too dangerous to use? Or if lightning struck a property in one of our villages and started a blaze? Or if someone suffered a cardiac arrest while attending a community event at the Memorial Hall? Or if we suffered a power outage that lasted for days at the coldest time of year? Or if a water main burst and ripped up the road? Or if a wild animal escaped from Whipsnade Zoo and was sighted in our parish?
What if the Chalgrave emergency was national news? How well would our community cope? Who should be informed straight away? Would anyone know what to do and what precautions to take until the emergency services arrived? Is there any means of spreading a message around our community quickly? Is there a place of refuge and safety that would be opened if we were unable to stay in our homes? Has anyone even thought about this?
Early last year, as part of a county-wide initiative, Chalgrave Parish Council formed a four-person Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), whose most significant task was to create a document, the Chalgrave Community Emergency Plan. The Plan sets in place a framework of community response to any future emergency, identifying specific risks – including a pandemic – and challenges for our community and assigning specific responsibilities to individuals, should the need arise. The Plan will be reviewed and updated annually.
The Plan addresses:
- Where is the emergency? Is it near a school, does it place vulnerable folks in danger, does it obstruct a main access route?
- What type of emergency is it? Is there a threat to life? Has the electricity, gas or water supply been affected?
- Who is most directly impacted by the emergency, for example, the housebound, the elderly, families with children, people with specialised health needs or mobility issues?
- What resources are needed to address the emergency? The provision of food, shelter, blankets and warm clothing, off-road vehicles etc.
- The purpose of the Plan is to create a framework of risk assessment and emergency response that can be activated quickly when an emergency arises. It considers:
- How we can support the local authority and emergency services (police, ambulance and fire)
- Whom we can call upon locally who has specialised skills and resources
- Which organisations we should inform to help identify and assist vulnerable members of our community
- Whether we need to open any of our identified locations as a place of safety and focal point for administering assistance
- What messages need to be communicated to our community in order to keep everyone safe
- What actions can safely be taken, in response to the emergency, and who will take the lead
The details of the Plan include sensitive and personal information and so it is inappropriate to publish them. However, Phil Parry, the Plan Administrator (07831 605600), Barbara Jackson, Co-ordinator (07960 445492) and Team members Debbie Levy (07931 408697) and Paul Whitton (07808 174843) are the people to approach if you would like to learn more about the Chalgrave Community Emergency Plan. Additionally, Roger Fenwick (07814 598309) is a point of contact for senior citizens.