Disasters both natural and man-made can strike anywhere at any time. The emergency services, local authority departments and voluntary organisations must have plans to be able to respond to a large scale emergency 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
One requirement is for us to plan to respond to the emotional and psychological needs of people who are affected by incidents such as a school mini-bus crash, major fire or stadium disaster.
In Cheshire a steering group to cover the above issues was formed in 1997. The group was conscious of a number of issues concerning this subject, viz., the multiplicity of providers, differing perspectives, no apparent shared professional agreement as to what might constitute best practice.
A key motivator was the experience of the Hillsborough tragedy. Individual families of the deceased were visited by up to six separate agencies offering psychological support. Surely we could offer a more co-ordinated response.
The third edition of the Psychological Support Plan covers the Council area. The steering group meets on several occasions annually and the plan is regularly tested.