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Get Ready! Making sure West Yorkshire is prepared for anything

West Yorkshire Prepared, the regional multi-agency partnership of which West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) is a key member, had a busy year in 2019 ensuring our communities are best prepared to cope in the event of a major civil emergency.

West Yorkshire Prepared, the region’s Local Resilience Forum, is made up of West Yorkshire’s emergency services, local authorities, health providers and the Environment Agency. Co-chaired by Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton of WYFRS, Assistant Chief Constable Tim Kingsman of West Yorkshire Police and the Chief Executive of Calderdale Council, Robin Tuddenham, the Partnership works together with the Met Office, voluntary organisations, transport and utility companies to identify potential risks and produce emergency plans to either prevent or mitigate the impact of any incident on local communities.

Throughout 2019, the partnership delivered over 100 training courses, seminars, meetings and exercises to its partners and external organisations, looking at different areas of emergency planning, including: the training and development of key agencies and partners; preparing and maintaining communications tools to keep the public informed of essential information; encouraging and promoting community resilience to enable communities to ‘self-help’ during times of crisis; and severe weather planning to ensure agencies work together effectively.

This latter area of work was put to the test last year when West Yorkshire Prepared was asked to assist neighbouring emergency services in South Yorkshire, following November’s devastating floods in Doncaster.

Mike Powell, Emergency Planning Manager for Bradford MDC, worked with Bradford Services to deliver 2,000 sandbags to the affected area.

He said: “A ‘mutual aid’ request was made through the Local Resilience Forum for staff, and later sandbags, to assist in the recovery work. Staff from Bradford, Calderdale and Wakefield Local Authorities worked with Doncaster council to assist in their Emergency Control Centre.”

Last year the Partnership also carried out a great deal of behind the scenes planning in preparation for a no-deal Brexit. A wide range of risks posed by a no-deal scenario were considered, with partners looking to ensure stakeholders across the region were as prepared as possible.

Inspector Paul Akerman, Manager of West Yorkshire Prepared, said: “The organisations in West Yorkshire Prepared work together to identify and prepare for major civil emergencies, such as extreme weather, major public disturbance and health pandemics, to ensure we – as a region – are better prepared to cope with potential risks and able to recover following a major incident.

“Although many people won’t have heard of a Local Resilience Forum, it should be reassuring to know there are a large number of agencies and organisations continually working to ensure our region’s communities are as prepared as possible in the event of a major incident.”

Coming up in 2020, West Yorkshire Prepared will continue to work to keep the people of West Yorkshire safe. It will host, deliver and support a number of events, training sessions and seminars all designed to plan for and make the region more resilient to local and national incidents.

This includes JESIP (Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles) training, which runs throughout the year, and is designed to improve the way emergency services respond together in order save more lives. Multi-agency simulation exercises will also be delivered, which test the capabilities and knowledge of the different services and partners who would be involved in a major incident.

There will also be the launch of a new website, where individuals, communities and businesses will be able to find helpful advice on how to be better prepared for emergencies, such as what to do in the event of flooding, driving in bad weather conditions and protecting your business from a cyber attack.

In the meantime, for more information, people can follow the work of West Yorkshire Prepared on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WYPrepared) or Twitter (@WYRForum).