Previous chapter    Manual Contents page    SSNW Home Page    Next chapter



Annexes following this chapter: click to go direct to the Annex

A9 – Basics of an Emergency rest centre

B9 – Emergency Rest Centre services

C9 – Facilities required in an Emergency Rest centre

D9 – Staffing the ER Centre

E9 -  Example of a registration system from North Wales

     F9 -  Casualty Bureau Survivor  /Evacuee form


The Police and Sheltering/Evacuation

9.1.      If for instance  due to flooding or a bomb threat, the Police will make a decision, based on expert advice, that the public should be advised to take SHELTER OR EVACUATE currently occupied buildings. The Local Authority can assist the Police decision-making and action by providing access to population data.


9.2.     Evacuation might be advisable:

a.      When the population can be moved from the threatened area without unnecessary risk - and the nature of the hazard is such that sufficient time is available to move the number of people likely to be involved - the public might be recommended by the Police to move to a safe area until the hazard has passed.


b.      Where destruction or severe damage to property is incurred, evacuation is likely to be the only option.   Sheltering might be advisable: when it is dangerous to be out of doors.


c.      There will also be a need to decontaminate victims in the

event  of a terrorist attack using biological/chemical or so called ‘dirty bombs’s. This will involve specially designed tents in    which there will be showering facilities allowing people to be decontaminated in a closed and controlled environment, as well as medically examined. Victims will be expected to undergo this process. The fire and health services are to be provided with relevant equipment.


Types of Accommodation

9.3.      Provision of accommodation may not always be the responsibility of Social Services; Housing and Education can also play a part.     

Accommodation provided may also be multi-purpose.

Emergency Rest Centres

Emergency Rest Centres (ERC) are provided to meet short-term accommodation needs, although some evacuees housed in them may to be accommodated on a more long-term basis. They may thus provide a complete solution to accommodation needs for those who can return home, or a temporary accommodation, assessment and transit facility for those requiring longer-term accommodation.  It is the duty of the Local Authority to provide emergency accommodation.  Where possible, ERC ’s should be buildings that have been previously identified and prepared for the purpose.   If overnight stays are necessary, stays in excess of three nights should be  avoided as ERC ’s are not usually suitable for long-term accommodation.  An ERC is a place where:

·        survivors or persons evacuated can receive temporary shelter, warmth and feeding;

·        basic first aid and nursing care, welfare and overnight accommodation can be provided;

·        families who have been separated during the incident can be brought to together.”

Survivor Reception Centres

            Survivor Reception Centres (SCR’s) fulfil the range of functions described under Rest Centres, above.  They may require to be set up following an incident and there may be no opportunity to utilise prepared buildings, due to the urgency of the situation and/or the location of the incident.  SCR’s will also be required to provide premises in a secure area, to which those who have been directly involved in an incident and are uninjured can be taken, so that the Police can have access to the survivors during their initial investigation into the incident.  In case suspects are in their midst – where there is a possible criminal cause of the incident – survivors will be required to stay until such checks are completed. Increasingly the police are now allocating Family Liaison Officers (FLO’s) to families or individuals. FLO’s are a primary member of the investigation team and provide information and support to survivors and the families of the bereaved. Local authorities and FLO’s need to work closely together to ensure that welfare needs are met, as in the aftermath of the Paddington Rail Crash in 1999.

Friends and Relatives Reception Centres.

            Friends and Relatives Reception Centres may be required to provide an assembly point where friends and relatives of victims, who have travelled to the scene of the incident, can be received and arrangements made for their special needs. It is thus possible that an Survivor Reception Centre could be required close to the site of the incident, with a Friends and Relatives Reception Centre at another location and a longer term Emergency Rest Centre at a third.  In a very large incident, duplication of premises may be necessary.  Survivors should be moved from the SRC to the Reception Centre as soon as that is possible.  Similarly friends and relatives should leave the Friends and Relatives Reception Centre for the Reception Centre, as soon as the person(s) they are looking for has been moved.

Other Accommodation

At the Planning stage:

a.      Identify a centre of operations for major incident team.  Make sure there is an alternative in another building.

b.      Identify offices for crisis support team

c.       Emergency centres – prepare with Emergency Planning Officer list of suitable public buildings and identify facilities available and occupancy figures. 

d.      Identify suitable premises for a drop in/information centre(s) and help line.  It makes sense to combine the two.  Make sure there is space available for privacy, group meetings and rest rooms.

e.      Identify a staff marshalling/briefing point.


Relocation of Survivors

9.4.      At the time of disaster ascertain the extent of the damage to property etc., plan for relocation if necessary, but try to maintain existing family/community links.  Remember temporary arrangements can be long term, but longer-term accommodation should be in consultation with the Housing Department.


Selection and Preparation of Premises

9.5.     The local authority Emergency Planning Officer (EPO) or equivalent, along with social service staff, will undertake the selection and preparation of buildings to ensure that they can be made available to the Police at very short notice.  Selection of premises should be based on:

a.             Geographical location give authority wide cover and take into account predetermined safety aspects in their location relevant to known hazardous sites (e.g. when selecting for specific CIMAH sites, ensure the premises are at a distance well beyond the estimated hazard range).


b.             Suitability to accommodate large numbers of people with adequate space to convert to sleeping area.  Communications will be required to provide information on survivors/evacuees to the Casualty Bureau (preferably by fax or email). In the longer term, to allow survivors/evacuees to communicate with their friends and relatives.

c.             The duty EPO (or equivalent) will hold a list of key holders. Having identified and set in motion the designation of a building – the cost of using a particular type of accommodation may need to be checked - the need for SSD involvement will be communicated to the Local Authority Emergency Centre and onward to the SSD via the contact officer.


d.             Long-term accommodation will  be provided by District Councils under the duties imposed on them by Part III Sections 59 – 78 of the Housing Act, 1995.


Facilities Required

9.6.     Emergency feeding facilities, with preference given to those premises that have a cooking as well as a serving area.

Sufficient additional internal area to provide room for:


a.             assembly point;

b.             documentation / registration area

c.             information and help point(s);

d.             quiet room;

e.             first aid post;

f.               older / vulnerable persons room;

g.             nursing mothers room;

h.             extra toilet areas;

i.               pets area

j.                media room

k.             car parking facilities


“Emergency box”   It is recommended that this be provided for each of the designated premises. This should contain instructions and guidance to set up and operate the centre, together with basic items of equipment, e.g. signs, arm bands, etc.” It may also be necessary to provide centrally located “emergency bases” for use in undesignated buildings.  If undesignated premises need to be opened, those sheltering in such premises should be relocated to prepared Emergency Rest Centres.


Emergency Rest Centre Management

9.7.     The overall management of Emergency Rest or Reception Centres, rests with the Local Authority through its nominated officers. Support with the running of the centre may be undertaken by the voluntary organisations. The Red Cross, Salvation Army and the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service have long experience of this role. The Police should provide:

a.       liaison with the Local Authority representative in charge;


b.      assistance with the management of documentation / registration for Police purposes ( e.g. Casualty Bureau );


c.       casualty information point staff ;


d.      control of access to the centre;


e.      liaison with the media

f.        control of damage, disorder or theft within the centre.”

At Survivor Reception Centres and/or Friends and Relatives Reception Centres- when the nature of the incident dictates that these be established - a strong Police presence can be expected, (Friends and Families Reception Centres are managed by the police).   The welfare needs of those accommodated therein will be dealt with in a similar manner to those at the Rest Centre.  The Local Authority manager will comply with the operational needs of the Police and work directly to the Police Officer in charge. It cannot be assumed that the police will always have sufficient staff.

            The management of Emergency Rest Centres should be provided through the establishment of a small management team led by the Rest Centre Manager.


a.      The Building Manager (i.e. the person who usually manages the building)


The Building Manager is responsible for the physical aspects of the use to which the building is being put and for bringing to the team’s decision making, a knowledge of the building and what it can provide.

b.      A Police Officer:


usually provides the Police with what is required.  This will be particularly important when the nature of the incident involves extensive information gathering by the Police.


c.       The Social Services  ERC Manager will be responsible for the welfare aspects of the operation of the centre.

d.      Contributions from any other organisations present, as appropriate, e.g. the WRVS will often have an important role to play; the Housing Department may be active; the EPO may have a contribution to make, etc.).



9.8.     The Emergency Rest Centre Manager

The Social Services ERC Manager should ideally be a person who has experience of managing residential facilities or managing a diverse group of staff providing direct care. ERC managers should have been trained to provide this function and should have familiarised themselves with the designated buildings prior to undertaking this role.  However, it is the case that a number of managers would be required at different locations and over time, in a large incident, and it may become necessary to use personnel who do not have this experience.  It is therefore, important that the nature of the role should be specified in sufficient detail to enable these personnel to quickly identify the key tasks and responsibilities associated with this role. 

The Emergency Rest Centre Administration Role

The Social Services ERC Administration Officers should be trained to assist with the task of registration. This includes referring information to the Police Casualty Bureau.  Registration information will also be available to the SSD for later follow-up, if necessary.  The provision of telephones, fax and email facilities and appropriate registration stationery will be particularly important, in order to allow the smooth flow of information.  

Officer with responsibility for Emergency Transport

The transport arrangements for the ERC require careful co-ordination. This will be undertaken in conjunction with the ERC Management Team. The Officer responsible for co-ordinating transport will need to liaise with the Emergency Centre Accommodation Officer who will be a member of the Housing Department.

Officer with responsibility for Emergency Rest Centre Accommodation:

This Officer will be a member of the Housing Department whose task it will be to arrange temporary accommodation for displaced persons. Mobilisation of this function will be on the basis of the Housing Department Emergency Plan.

Emergency Rest Centre Staffing

The management and staffing Emergency Rest Centres, in relation to their general welfare needs, is the responsibility of Social Services.  Mobilisation of the Core Crisis Team will provide a pool of trained Social Services staff, under a Team Leader, with an associated group of volunteers, able to undertake the variety of role and tasks which may be necessary. It may be that some of the practical aspects of the provision and staffing of ERC ‘s should remain the direct responsibility of the EPO, particularly the provision of staff, often through the WRVS, who may be needed to provide assistance with registration and initial light catering.  A local decision is required on whether the running of Emergency Rest Centres becomes a sole SSD  responsibility or whether some of the responsibility is shared.


Registration at Emergency Rest Centres - Roles

9.9.     The Police Role

The Police are responsible for the identification of casualties (see Section 2) and evacuees.  During a major incident the Police will establish a Casualty Bureau, which provides a central contact and information point for all records and data relating to casualties. (A national form is now used based on the Police Casualty form). Which organisation takes responsibility for the registration process is now a local decision.

Local Authority Role

Local Authority staff and members of the voluntary organisations will play a vital role in assisting the Police with the gathering of information and details.  There are likely to already be registration systems in place (if in doubt Social Services should check with their EPO before developing anything of their own). If systems are not already in place then an area wide system agreed within a particular police force boundary, would be useful. This should be developed jointly with other Social Services, emergency planning and the police. All registration information obtained at the Reception centre or ERC will be passed to the Casualty Bureau.  Registration ensures that:

·        survivors/evacuees receive the services which they require both at the time and in the period following a major incident;

·        the Police Casualty Bureau is provided with information;

·        the Local Authority has a record of services provided to casualties.


Registration Process

9.10.   Key points:

It is essential that all survivors / evacuees report initially to the ERC for registration, even if they are intending to stay with friends or relatives.

·        Registration can be time consuming.

·        Completion of essential identifying personal details.

·        Comprehensive information can be obtained later.

It is recommended that Local Authorities, in conjunction with the Police, should adopt these or similar procedures for registration of survivors/evacuees at Emergency Rest Centres.  Relevant voluntary organisations may be able to assist in the drawing up of such procedures.

The Police would prefer a single controlled access/exit point, so that it is possible to be sure who is present and who has left at any given time.

It is essential that a thorough follow up of those registered should occur in the longer term, to ensure that those affected receive appropriate services.



Experience has shown that comprehensive Registration of all Casualties/Evacuees who pass through an Emergency Rest Centre is the only satisfactory procedure.

This should be adhered to even in small incidents, as smaller incidents may escalate and it can be impossible to identify this at the outset

Following the procedure during any incident provides an opportunity to test the procedure.

 A registration system can not be guaranteed to be a complete record of all who were involved, it is the most effective mechanism to ensure that the Casualty Bureau receives comprehensive information to assist in determining who, IS and IS NOT accounted for.

It enables the tracking of the affected population, which may include multiple relocations and it enables identification of individuals with special needs, so that they can be given appropriate support during the emergency and subsequently.



9.11.   Responsibility: For the mobilisation of transport to convey survivors / evacuees from the scene to the safety of Emergency Rest Centre accommodation as a result of a local decision between the Police, Local Authority.

Agreement should be reached with those managing transport on:


a.      “the need, if necessary, for buses en route to be off-loaded and diverted, should the situation warrant it;


b.      an effective driver and escorts call-out system (and system of payments);


c.       ensuring that the personal safety of drivers is one of the considerations when assessing the need for evacuation, their licences must also be appropriate to the size of vehicle driven.

d.      Agreement that local authorities can contract out for transport and that transport can be provided by other departments and voluntary organisations.

Officers with Responsibility for Emergency Rest Centre Transport

Officers with the above responsibility will be required at Emergency Rest Centres to organise all the Transport requirements. This will be undertaken in conjunction with the ERC Management Team. 


Special  Needs

9.12.   Consideration should be given to specialist transport for the older / vulnerable persons and disabled people.  Those services that cater for wheelchair bound passengers must be utilised appropriately to ensure that these needs are met. It is important to ensure that regulations in relation to transporting wheelchair users and other vulnerable individuals are complied with. Social Services must in a position to call upon its specialist transport services and mechanisms for rapid call-out will be required.


Previous chapter    Manual Contents page    SSNW Home Page    Next chapter


These annexes now follow: click to go direct to the Annex

A9 – Basics of an Emergency rest centre

B9 – Emergency Rest Centre services

C9 – Facilities required in an Emergency Rest centre

D9 – Staffing the ER Centre

E9 -  Example of a registration system from North Wales

     F9 -  Casualty Bureau Survivor  /Evacuee form


***ANNEX A9 is in a separate JPEG graphics file: click here to go to it***


Annex B9


Circumstances will dictate the need for and extend of each of the designated areas.

Vehicle parking – is likely to be limited, especially hard-standing areas.  Coaches may be bringing people from some distance.  A large number of people may arrive by car.

Screening/Cleansing Area – screening is provided to reassure survivors/evacuees and is available, when required, to all arrivals.

Toilets and Washbasins – should be available to all arrivals before entering the main processing areas. Casualty Bureau form (example in Annex F9).  The second part is filed alphabetically in the registration point file.  A third part of the documentation, recording essential details of the person, is placed in a recording essential details of the person, is placed in a small transparent envelope which is pinned to the person’s clothing, in place of the previously issued badge.  It is, thus, possible to tell at a glance who has been registered and who has not.

            When the person leaves the centre, they hand in their document and their destination is recorded.  If they go to another centre, they are registered again by the same procedure.  This enables the person to be tracked as they move through the system and between accommodation.

Directing Point – a simple means of getting people under cover in the main building quickly and identifying immediate needs for example first aid, replacement clothing, blankets and reassurance for survivors/ evacuees must be available when required, to all arrivals.

Secure Room -  for baggage.

Isolation Area - Adjacent to, but separate from the first aid post. Which enables persons with infectious disease to be isolated from the main areas whilst still receiving appropriate services and refreshments.

First Aid Post - located near an ambulance access point, on the ground floor.  Seriously injured persons would normally be sent to hospital but there is no guarantee that those who are slightly injured may not arrive at the Emergency Rest Centre.  The symptoms of delayed shock and accidents within the centre may need to be dealt with.  The level of treatment required would be dependant on individual circumstances.

Clothing Facilities– to provide arrivals with replacement or additional clothing.

Reception Hall – adjacent to or part of the Directing Point.  Acting as a buffer area to the directing point, by allowing a large influx of survivors/evacuee to quickly get under cover or allow appropriate attention to be paid to special needs category persons, thus ensuring all arrivals are documented as rapidly as possible.  The majority of evacuees will following registration, go straight to the Refreshment and Support area.

Information Point – a location  where queries from the general public who have not become casualties/evacuees or queries from the media can be handled.  Here is where ALL FORMS for the Casualty Bureau are collated and queries from the CB can be resolved.

Refreshment and Support Areas -  this area is  where people receive the most important services – tea, sustenance and information.  A supervised Children’s Play Area allows parents to gather their thoughts.   An information and Advice Area enables a two-way flow of information, especially on the current situation concerning the emergency.






Suitable access for vulnerable and disabled people

Several large rooms

Large hall at ground floor level

Large outdoor area for toilets and refuse pits – use of refuse ‘skips’ should be considered

Indoor and/or outdoor cooking facilities

Decontamination area, toilets and washing facilities


Numerous smaller rooms at ground floor level

Large covered areas (hallways or outdoor areas)

Vehicle access and considerable parking area (hard standing)

Good communications including radios

Layout capable of organising smooth, rapid processing

Safe and adequate waste supply

Access for wheelchairs and prams

Adequate ventilation and temperature control

Ability to implement public health measures if necessary e.g. isolation

Identification of locally available staff

A calm organised atmosphere with well-trained staff

Staff rest and dining areas, well separated from other functional rooms

Equipment, which might include:

Emergency generator(s) and cooking or heating fuel supplies e.g. calor gas, coal

Ad hoc water storage facilities e.g. swimming pool

Beds, bedding

Books and magazines  (including minority language and large print) and games, television and radio (relieve boredom)

Supplies of soap, towels, disinfectant, clean rags

Public address system

Food stocks, cooking pots and dinnerware, including paper plates etc

Stationery and forms, portable notice boards

Large plan showing the Emergency Reception and/or Rest Centre’s functional areas

Emergency lighting, including torches, candles and matches

Wheelchair for vulnerable  and disabled people.

Baby feeding equipment, cots and blankets

First aid equipment

Equipment to build outdoor toilets (portable toilets) toilet rolls

Fire fighting equipment

Staff armbands and means of identification

Plastic sacks

Washing-up liquid


Signs – Clothing – Rest Area – Refreshments – Reception – Toilets – Information – (signs and other information should be in relevant minority languages)

Registration – First Aid – Fire Exit – Arrow direction signs

Extra cards for signs together with felt tip pens

Cloakroom tickets

Baggage tags/labels

Pets Corner –this area should be separate (building or enclosures) with individual compartments for each animal or each ‘family group’ of animals (from any given household and used to sharing) if at all possible.

Welfare Assistance – enables people to obtain emergency payments or other forms for DSS or Social Services assistance, including counselling which may be required over a prolonged period and for which the Social Services Department aims to provide a specialist team.

Special Needs Category –older and disabled people and those suffering from, mental distress or physically ill, nursing home patients, single parents with children, children without parents, people who speak  little or no English,  pregnant women or nursing mothers, those in need of medication, persons under the influence of drink or drugs, physically aggressive or violent persons, those currently in Local Authority care. Dietary needs should also be considered (vegetarian, Halal, allergic reactions etc).




Taken from the London Borough’s document ‘Standard Operating Procedures for an Emergency Rest Centre, by the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority – Emergency Planning Division.

  The staff needed to operate the Centre are as follows.  (It may be possible to designate some specific staff but normally it will be necessary to arrange staffing through Council Departments or Voluntary organisations.





Supplying Organisations & Tel. No.

Name and Telephone Number

Rest Centre Manager Assistant


Local Authority (LA)

Reception Area Supervisor






Registration Area Supervisor

Registration Clerks





Storeroom Supervisor



Environmental Health Officer



Information Area Supervisor






First Aid Post Supervisor



Nursery Supervisor


Police Checks

Accommodation Area Supervisor






Housing Officer



Dining Area Supervisor






Departures Desk Clerk



Volunteer Services Officer



Pets Area Supervisor



Welfare Officer




Communications Officer



Car Parking Supervisor



Security Supervisor & Assistants







X = to be decided when centre capacity is determined.



It is recommended that a system similar to that of the former Welsh County of Clwyd’s Emergency Planning Unit should be put in place.  Local decisions will have to be taken in relation to overall responsibility for its operation.  The Social Services Department will have a strong interest in its operation for purposes of subsequent follow-up.

The Emergency Planning Unit (EPU) devised a registration system, developed in conjunction with the Women’s Royal Volunteers Service, based experience gained in the North Wales Coastal Flooding, which works as follows:

1.         If the person is distressed or in need of rest/refreshment on arrival at the centre, they are issued with a card explaining the need for registration and a badge which they must pin to their clothing.  The badge has a unique registration number.

2.         When they are ready to do so, they return to the registration point.  Their details are entered on a two-part carbonated registration form.  One part is despatched to the Police Casualty Bureau or is transferred onto the standard National Police Casualty Bureau form (example to Annex B,).  The second part is filed alphabetically in the registration point file.  A third part of the documentation, recording essential details of the person, is placed in a recording essential details of the person, is placed in a small transparent envelope which is pinned to the person’s clothing, in place of the previously issued badge.  It is, thus, possible to tell at a glance who has been registered and who has not.

3.         When the person leaves the centre, they hand in their document and their destination is recorded.  If they go to another centre, they are registered again by the same procedure.  This enables the person to be tracked as they move through the system and between accommodation.

4.         This is a paper system, which makes it readily portable, robust and usable in adverse conditions.  An electronic system may be established concurrently, or the registration point files can be made available to the Social Services Department for subsequent entry onto an electronic system.

5.         Despite the availability of much information from the registration system all queries regarding casualties or their whereabouts should be redirected to the Police Casualty Bureau.


***ANNEX F9 is in a separate Word file: click here to go to it***


Previous chapter    Manual Contents page    SSNW Home Page    Next chapter