Seminars: Emergency Preparedness for the UK

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A coordinated, flexible and (when necessary) weighty emergency response is of critical national importance, as we are regularly reminded by events such as: widespread flooding in Gloucestershire (July 2007); terrorist attacks in London (July 2005); major fires in Buncefield (December 2005). Other global events reconfigure our anticipation of the size of potential incidents, for example: the Indian Ocean tsunami taking over 225,000 lives across eleven countries (December 2006); the Twin-Towers terrorist incident in New York taking 2,752 lives (September 2001). These incidents illustrate the type of events which our emergency services confront and for which they, and the public, need to be prepared.

For such incidents, Government can set policies and targets for a proportional emergency response which emergency responders work to achieve. Since the need to respond to a major catastrophic incident is rare and unexpected (in that advanced warning is usually limited), operational preparedness often relies on Operational Research (OR) models. Such predictive models can use operational assumptions to evaluate the effect of different operational configurations on the ability to meet targets.

Also due to their rarity, the public are not naturally conditioned to respond to major catastrophic incidents and their lack of preparedness can hinder their responsiveness. On this, Governments coordinate public preparedness campaigns, however, the reaction of the UK’s public is still largely unknown. Public communication, understanding of the public’s perception of risk and research on what constitutes an adequate public preparedness can all inform a country’s preparedness. Furthermore, when combined with an understanding of how the public may respond, OR models can be made more realistic and have stronger predictive qualities.

To address these issues the ESRC have commissioned a seminar series on "Emergency Response Preparedness in the UK". Our aims for the series focus at a national level on strengthening the research foundations of the preparedness of emergency responders, government officials and the public to better respond to major catastrophic incidents.

We will hold five 2-day seminars across 2 years:

  • Seminar 1 - Typology of models for supporting emergency responder preparedness. (15 & 16 December 08, Aston University).
  • Seminar 2 - Using models for emergency responder preparedness. (23 & 24 March 09, Aston University).
  • Seminar 3 - Typology of approaches for supporting public preparedness.
  • Seminar 4 - Using approaches for public preparedness.
  • Seminar 5 - A framework for measuring emergency responder and public preparedness.

We are inviting expressions of interest from a broad array of practitioners and academics. If you are interested in finding out more please contact: Duncan Shaw, Aston Business School. d.a.shaw@aston.ac.uk  (www.AstonCRISIS.com)