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A developing emergency case study

Incidents and emergencies can occur suddenly. However, in many instances you will have to respond to an incident that develops over a period of time and requires an escalating scale of response.

The scenario in the table below shows how an incident may grow from a relatively localised minor issue to a large-scale emergency affecting many agencies.

The scenario does not mean to imply a failure on the part of the event organiser to tackle things quickly. Rather, it demonstrates how an incident could develop and outlines the types of action and planning that may be required.

The incident could have been contained at any point during the development, but, for the purposes of the scenario, we assume that efforts prove ineffective at each stage.

Case study: Example of a developing incident

Setting: Early morning on the second day of a two-day music festival in a rural setting

A volunteer steward reports smoke coming from a car in the car park. They also report someone running away from the scene back into the event site

Action taken

Emergency plan

Staff on the scene confirm that a car is on fire in the car park

Action taken

Emergency plan

Fire spreads to adjacent vehicles

Action taken

Emergency plan

Fire threatens a number of live-in vehicles within the car park

Action taken

Emergency plan

Fire and rescue service arrives with one tender but is unable to gain access

Action taken

Emergency plan

LPG cylinders in live-in vehicle ignite

Action taken

Emergency plan

Major incident declared by fire and rescue service

Action taken

Emergency plan

Location declared a crime scene by police following the report of someone running from the initial incident

Action taken

Emergency plan

Car park inaccessible to departing patrons

Action taken

Emergency plan

Note: The above scenario is fictitious but not far-fetched. Such an incident could develop to the extent that Highways and Environment Agencies are involved in dealing with the aftermath and the incident extends over many days.

It illustrates how you need to have a flexible and adaptable emergency plan reaching into all areas of site planning, staffing, resources and briefing. At each stage the key factors are effective communication (internal and external), and a command structure which allows joint decision-making with an ever wider number of organisations.

Updated 2020-09-25