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Dealing with Major Incidents

Speacial Operations Response Team staff at an incident

It is the nature of major incidents that they are invariably unpredictable and complex and no incidents of this scale will be exactly alike. Each will present a unique set of challenges and is usually the result of a unique set of circumstances. 

First response

The Service provides the first component of (NHS) response to such incidents, using a generic plan as the basis of the response. The plan recognises that clinical needs of those involved are likely to be broadly similar, although the cause of the incident may vary.

This ambulance service response is geared principally to address the immediate medical needs of those involved, including triage and treatment and co-ordination their subsequent distribution to appropriate treatment centres or sites of definitive medical care.

Most major incidents have an immediate effect (Glasgow Airport Attack, Stockline Plastics Explosion, Dunblane Shootings, Lockerbie). In circumstances where the incident has a slow, developing or more predictable onset (extreme weather, flooding or pandemic illness), the potential consequences of the event are assessed and an appropriate response engineered, based on the provisions of the plan.

Multi-agency response

Ambulance services in the UK play a pivotal role in mobilising and co-ordinating NHS response at the scene of an incident and provide through the Ambulance Control Point a focal point of health care activity at the scene.
The resources deployed by the Service during a major incident are geared to delivering the greatest benefit for patients in a way that minimises the consequential disruption to healthcare services and that brings about a speedy return to normal service provision. This is done by ensuring the Ambulance Services blend both specialised and day to day resources working as part of a multi-agency response across organisational boundaries.

National Command and Co-ordination Centre

During large scale incidents across organisational boundaries we invariably establish national co-ordination through the National Command and Co-ordination Centre (NCCC) and work closely with relevant central government departments and regional structures to focus on the best deployment of assets to save lives.