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Help is at Hand!. Sarah Webb Regional HEPA East Midlands June 2009. Health Protection Agency. - Arms length body of the Dept of Health Category 1 responder under the CCA An ‘expert’ body not a body of experts! Local Health Protection Units Local incident response Infectious diseases

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Help is at Hand!

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Help is at hand

Help is at Hand!

Sarah Webb

Regional HEPA East Midlands

June 2009

Health protection agency

Health Protection Agency

  • - Arms length body of the Dept of Health

  • Category 1 responder under the CCA

  • An ‘expert’ body not a body of experts!

  • Local Health Protection Units

    • Local incident response

    • Infectious diseases

    • Proactive health protection work with range of stakeholders

Specialist centres and divisions

Specialist Centres and Divisions

  • Centre for Infections – Colindale

  • Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response – Porton

  • Chemical Hazards and Poisons – Chilton and regionally based teams

  • Radiation Protection Division – Chilton and Leeds

Hpa in emergencies

HPA in Emergencies

  • Category 1 responder

  • Primary role is to provide health protection advice and support to NHS and other responders but increasingly an operational role in response as well.

  • Infectious diseases

Chemical incidents

Chemical Incidents



Radiation incidents

Radiation Incidents

Help is at hand


  • Scientific and Technical Advice Cell

  • Called in a major incident with complex or serious health implications it provides a mechanism to bring together all the relevant experts to provide a single source of advice.

Stac guidance to local responders april 2007

STAC Guidance to local responders – April 2007

  • Replaces the HAT [JHAC]

  • Sits within the Strategic Co-ordinating Centre where there is a need for co-ordinated scientific and technical advice to support the response and advise the Gold Commander – useful to see this as part of gold command arrangements

  • Normally activated by the Police Gold – RDPH or HPA Regional Director may also recommend its formation

  • Covers non-terrorist incidents as well as CBRN

Role of the stac

Role of the STAC

  • Provides a common source of technical advice to Gold [pool information and provide a common view on the merits of different courses of action]

  • Monitor and corral the responding scientific and technical community to deliver on Gold’s objectives

  • Provides a common brief to the technical lead from each agency represented on the cell

  • Liaise with national specialist advisers and their agencies to ensure consistent advice locally and nationally


Cell lead – DPH

Secretariat/staff officer support

Gold liaison

Relevant emergency services technical advisers [HAZMAT etc.]





Local Authority EHP

Met Office

Other Government Departments e.g. DEFRA


Site Operators reps [COMAH sites]

Comms rep





  • RDPH has the strategic responsibility. This is discharged in the East Midlands by the HPA – single point for activation in the region supplemented by local arrangements with each LRF

  • Requests from Police Gold or RDPH etc to be phoned directly to HPA 24/7 number 07092 980004

Hpa role in activation

HPA role in activation

  • Signpost the availability of immediate scientific and health advice if necessary

  • Identify the cell lead who will in most circumstances be a Director of Public Health

  • Work with the cell lead to identify appropriate membership of STAC for the incident

  • Contact regional and national STAC members in the initial phase of STAC

  • Co-ordinate early meetings and teleconferencing. It is anticipated that the first STAC meeting would be a teleconference [for acute incidents set up within 1 hour - although this is unlikely to be a full STAC membership]

  • Provide staff officer support to the cell lead for the initial meetings – PCT to take this over?

Roles in a stac

Roles in a STAC

  • Deputy Chair [or Chair] {NHS HPA}

  • STAC Manager {HPA NHS EA}

  • STAC Administrator {HPA NHS EA}

  • STAC member - technical and scientific

  • This role can also be fulfilled by those from a range of organisations

Lrf responsibilities

LRF Responsibilities

  • Contact arrangements for local STAC members [Local Authority, Fire, etc.]

  • Each agency will need to consider general admin support [loggists] to the STAC. Out of hours this may be dependant on availability of volunteers

  • Suitable venue and support facilities including refreshments etc.

  • Gold liaison officer

Further considerations

Further considerations

  • Further national guidance being prepared – looking at competencies for key staff and training

  • Early advice – 1 hour from the first request

  • Cadre of trained individuals with opportunities to exercise

  • Role in supporting recovery – membership may change during the course of an incident

How will we know

How will we know?

  • Acute or ‘big bang’ incidents – links through the blue light services

  • Set of triggers agreed with Fire and Rescue Services

    • Large fires, chemical incidents, radiation incidents

  • Police Gold or SCG

  • ‘Slow burn’ incidents

  • Chronic incidents – land contamination

  • Public health route and/or HPA advice

Pressures of working in a stac

Pressures of working in a STAC

  • Information poor – be proactive!

  • Time critical

  • Working environment may be less than ideal

  • May need to run extended hours or 24/7 – handover is vital

  • ‘Battle rhythm’ – SCG meetings

  • Police liaison officer provides a key link to the SCG

  • Records management – rules of evidence

In summary

In summary

  • HPA has a key role in incident response for emergencies affecting health and local authorities EHP’s are likely to be part of that response. In particular in a STAC.

  • Multi-agency response networks – Local Resilience Forum is a vital links between all of us

  • STAC participant training sessions in each county to be run by the HPA

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