Any questions on emergency response? 

Here are a few of our most frequently asked questions. 

Don't see your question, don't worry, just give us a call!

What is an emergency?

An emergency is an unplanned event which is a risk to life, the environment, the emergency site or the company’s reputation.


 What is emergency response?

Emergency response is the prepared response to an emergency your organisation may have. This means having trained personnel who are exercised and know their role in the event of an emergency.  The emergency could be at an office building, laboratory, refinery, gas storage facility, offshore installation, onshore drilling site, manufacturing site, anywhere.


 What types of emergency require an emergency response?

It could be something minor, or it could be something major.  The type of incident and location of the site/facility could determine whether the emergency is minor or major.


 How often should emergency personnel receive training and exercises?

This depends on their role and the possible legislative requirement.  Offshore/onshore oil and gas installations as well as COMAH sites have specific legislative requirements they must follow.  As do some others. For locations that are not led by legislations, best practice would be comprehensive initial training, to include a practical exercise, followed by at least one annual exercise.


 Should you outsource your emergency response?

Ideally not. It is never a good idea to outsource your emergency organisation as you lose the knowledge from your business.  However, there are areas you can outsource to specialist companies like Response Consultants, but it is never recommended for the Emergency Response Team to be outsourced. There should always be a Company person leading the response, a Company person speaking to the site, a Company person dealing with the logistics, and the same for any oil spill event. This reduces any conflict for liability and ensures knowledge of Company assets/sites is immediately at hand.  However, an exception can be made for companies who do not have enough personnel to staff their own team.


 How many people are required to establish an Emergency Response Team?

For an Operator, we normally advise 36 people are required to establish a good, solid team that aren’t on-call too often.  With 36 people, this allows for 6 roles within the team and each person would be on-call every 6 weeks, which isn’t too onerous.  If computer software is used by each team member for event logging, this could be reduced to 30 personnel.  For a contractor, there are different options available.  Some companies opt to have one duty person on-call and any others are mobilised by a cascade system, but other companies choose to have the full team on-call.  A full contractor team is normally comprised of between 3 and 6 people.


Should all offices, factories, installations, sites, etc. have an emergency response procedure?

Yes, absolutely! An emergency response procedure outlines the required response in the event of an emergency. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of nominated personnel, what constitutes a minor or major emergency, how personnel are mobilised, where they should mobilise to, and could potentially include muster points and other vital information.


What is the difference between emergency response and crisis management?

Emergency response focuses on the immediate response and what is required in the short term. Often referred to as the tactical response and how to solve the problem.  Whereas crisis management is more of a strategic response and is more long term, focussing on higher level, corporate issues.


What is the purpose of a relatives response team?

A relatives response team will be established by an organisation to answer telephone queries from family and friends during an ongoing emergency.  This team should not provide ‘bad news’, instead passing good news once any bad news has been delivered by HR personnel or the police.


Do we require a relatives response team?

A relatives response team is comforting for family and friends and can reduce the amount of stress on an HR department, who may otherwise have to handle the calls. However, whether having a relatives response team falls under ‘duty of care’ or ‘moral obligation’ is up to each organisation. Either way, it’s excellent for a company’s reputation to be able to provide this service, whether it is staffed by company personnel or outsourced to a company like Response Consultants.


What are Family Liaison Representatives (FLR)?

FLRs are personnel who have volunteered or who have been nominated by their employer to be the company representative to either follow the police after they have delivered the ‘death message’, or in some circumstances, inform the next-of-kin that their loved one is dead.  Whilst it is rare to have to perform this second role, there are situations where the police in the UK will not carry out this difficult task.

Furthermore, if you work in the oil and gas industry, there is a Police Scotland document that refers to the “message of involvement”.  The FLRs would also be the nominated people to deliver this message.


What is the “message of involvement”?

The “message of involvement” comes from a Police Scotland guidance document, put together following the tragic helicopter incident on 01 April 2009.  The document outlines that “the company coordinating the emergency response for the incident is responsible for” informing the next-of-kin their loved one is either “injured, missing or apparently deceased” if any of the following triggers are met:

–           “early indication of several fatalities/life-threatening injuries/missing persons

–          appointment of a Police Senior Identification Manager (SIM)

–          establishment of an Operations and Coordination Centre.”

The full document can be found here.


Should Family Liaison Representatives be trained for their role?

Yes. It is vitally important that FLRs receive training on how to carry out their role as it is probably the most difficult within the emergency response organisation. Understanding the practicalities of what happens after a death in the workplace, whether in the UK or overseas, how a person reacts to stress, the grieving process and supporting the family, as well as potentially role-playing scenarios, could make a huge difference to how a FLR conducts themselves during an uncomfortable situation.


What is an Evacuation Reception Centre?

This is a centre that is established by a company to look after its displaced personnel.  This could be due to a number of reasons, for example, an offshore installation has an emergency and all non-essential personnel are evacuated for safety purposes, but they have no belongings.  The reception centre will be established to ensure the evacuees are cared for (fed, clothed, seen by a doctor, given accommodation or transport home, provided with clean clothes, etc.).  A reception centre could also be establish because an office is on fire and staff members need a safe place to shelter.


How many personnel are required to run a Reception Centre?

Normally a minimum of 10 personnel are required. This ensures all displaced people can be well looked after, all paperwork can be completed, and employees can be safely sent home.  In the event of an offshore Evacuation Reception Centre being established, a minimum of two of those people are from the Operator and the rest are Contractor personnel.


What is ICS?

ICS (Incident Command System) is a model that is used for the command and control of emergencies. It was initially developed in the 1970s California to aid in the effort of fighting wildfires, but it is now used internationally by some emergency services oil and gas companies, petrochemical companies and many other industries.  It is probably most famously used by FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) in the USA.

ICS is a standardised model which combines personnel, equipment, facilities, communications and procedures functioning within an integrated organisational structure.  ICS allows the efficient management of these resources during minor or major incidents, and can even be used to plan events.


Response Consultants UK Limited

168 Holburn Street, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, AB10 6DA

Telephone: +44 (0)1224 595111

email: claire@response-consultants.com