Crisis, emergency, major incident, disaster - there are many different words that are used to describe large scale events of an unfortunate nature - but what do we actually mean? Within London it is generally agreed that a major incident or emergency is any situation or event of a scale that requires the use of special arrangements by one or more of the emergency services. Examples include:
- the displacement and/or casualties of a large number of people;
- serious incident that affect the transportation network;
- extreme weather events;
- large scale industrial accidents;
- health related emergencies; and
- terrorist attacks
Types of emergency
Emergencies come in many different forms some natural some manmade and thankfully events such as earthquakes and tornados are very rare in the UK. However we have various emergencies of one sort or another which still have a significant impact on our daily lives. Below is a list of broad categories of emergencies that the UK has experienced over the last few years.
Severe Weather - severe weather can take a number of forms such as storms and gales, extreme winter weather, heatwaves and droughts. All of which at times can cause significant damage and disruption.
Flooding - the events of summer 2007 showed that flooding not only takes a number of forms, such as coastal and inland flooding, flash flooding and dam collapse or failure, but its can affect many different aspects of our lives.
Human Disease - though the risk of a serious epidemic or outbreak of disease has reduced with the widespread availability of modern drugs and medicines, the potential for an emergency still remains. The types of disease of a particular concern are an influenza pandemic, an outbreak of a SARS and a localised outbreak of legionella or meningitis.
Animal Disease - the UK has experienced a number of significant cases of animal disease with foot & mouth disease and avian influenza (bird flu) being the most notable.
Major Industrial Accidents - the UK has a good record when it comes to major industrial accidents, but they still occur. They can take a number of forms and have a range of consequences on various scales. In most cases they have no or limited impact off site but in rare cases they can have significant consequences such as Buncefield.
Major Transport Accidents - thanks to modern safety regimes large-scale transport emergencies are rare. However with increasing numbers of people and vehicles travelling in the UK accidents on our roads, rails and in our air remain inevitable.
Terrorism - unfortunately the UK faces a serious and sustained threat from terrorism. The potential emergencies from terrorism range from large scale casualties through CBRN attacks or attacks on our national critical infrastructure through traditional methods or electronic methods.