[Mick Shears, Resilience Officer will provide a presentation to the Group followed by a question and answer session]
The Chair welcomed Mr Mick Shears, Resilience Officer to the meeting.
The Emergency Planning and Resilience Team was a team of two that covered emergency planning, business continuity and priority functions in the Council.
Exercises were carried out on a weekly basis, these were desktop exercises specifically for Duty Managers to help them consider the decisions they were making. There were about 35-36 Duty Managers and they were available 24/7 during the week they were on duty. The Duty Manager would assess and coordinate an appropriate response to a major incident, approve resource allocation and brief the Duty Director. There were about 10 Duty Directors who were ultimately responsible to the Managing Director.
Tactical Control Room was where staff would make decisions in relation to the incident. There was also a set of screens in a secondary location in the City. It was noted that the primary location down steps and was not accessible for wheelchair users at the moment and there were currently no plans at to change this. The Group noted that there was a pre-emptive responsibility to make it accessible under equalities act.
There would be 8 people in the control room to start with including representatives from public health, an intelligence officer, a control room manager (chair), Senior communications advisor, 3x functional coordinators and surge seats if required..
Mr Shears provided a presentation highlighting what would happen in an emergency situation.
The Group queried whether the staff trained to register and record evacuees into rest centres, had any specific training in relation to vulnerable people. It was stated that staff had been told to identify vulnerable people but that they would probably look to other more specialise staff to help with this. There was only one member of staff and the Red Cross would be there as well so most of the work regarding vulnerable people would be carried out by them. The Panel requested that the Council check what training the Red Cross staff have had.
There was a 24 hour contact centre with 2 staff members on each night; these staff were also dealing with care link alarms so were very busy.
The role of Rest Centre Manager carried some of the biggest responsibilities. There were 4 primary rest centres and 19-20 smaller rest centres and the required number would be opened dependent on the nature and severity of the incident. The Group queried whether the Wednesfield North Ashmore Park was on the list but it was stated that this was being refurbished at the time the list was compiled so needed to be revisited.
The question was raised as to whether there was a policy to have rest centres evenly spaced across city. The Group considered that it was important to be close to homes for school and work. It was stated that in the short term if there was a large number of people they would have to be put in transportation and moved but in the long term closer possibilities could be explored with help from local groups.
The Group noted the need to know what the accessibility was in each rest centre regarding areas such as beds and changing areas.
The Group also queried who had responsibility for medication needs and it was stated that the Council had a system with Red Cross that allowed access via local GPs groups to the records of the community and that this allowed staff to get prescriptions and medications.
The Group stated that they were very pleased to see the mental health involvement during what could be a devastating time when people needed immediate and continuing help. The Group stated that staff proficient in sign language also needed to be present.
The current model had been put together in the last 2 years but had not really been tested as a whole but parts of it had been used. There had been a recent flooding incident and there were some issues which meant that people might not have been able to get back into their flats. Some issues had also been identified following the incident around the way that the rest centres were identified.
The Group queried when the last major incident rehearsal had been carried out. Mr Shears stated that there had not been a test since he had been in post. The Group considered that there seemed to be more incidents recently and that the Council should think about testing. It was vital to know for sure that the interconnectivity worked and the IT and Communications systems worked and this could only be done though testing.
It was stated that the fire service did an exercise every weekend and the Council would attach a rest centre when the test was in Wolverhampton.
The Group also considered that it would be great to get rest centre managers and other responders trained in mental health to get issues signposted immediately.
The Group considered that it would be beneficial to meet with local faith groups regarding using their facilities as rest centres and that it would be great if the Council could get information on vulnerable people onto the emergency planning map.
The question was raised as to what access councillors could have to the map. I was confirmed that the map could be available to anyone in the Council once they had been sent the file. The Group considered that this should be available to all councillors.
The Group also considered that it would be beneficial to have the vulnerable person data from the safe and well visits added to the map and to have access to Wolverhampton Homes data.
The Group expressed concern regarding information that the service might be taken outsourced and it was resolved that the Group write to the Managing Director to request clarity on this.
Resolved: That the Chair write to the Managing Director on behalf of the Group to seek clarity as to the outsourcing of the Emergency Planning and Resilience service.