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Help me find a wild goose!

Help me find a wild goose!

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What started as a good idea has got me stumped, and I need your help! I’m on the hunt for the first edition of the London Emergency Services Liaison Panel Major Incident Procedures Manual. Snappy title huh?!

It was published in hard copy only in, or around 1986, and was the first attempt to describe the multi agency response to a civil emergency.

  • Are you an emergency planner with an extensive library?
  • Do you know any ex police/fire/ambulance staff? Are they a bit of a hoarder?
  • If so, share this post with them or encourage them to contact me!

Why am I after a document that’s as old as I am?

LESLP started life in different times. Whilst many of the risks that London faced in 1973 are the same in 2015, others have changed and more have been identified (hello: cyber hacking). However, it’s not just the risks that change, the capacity and capability to respond have also changed.

It’s hard to look at how things have changed when you weren’t there to experience it first hand. From the outside the police in 2015 is markedly different to the Life on Mars image I have in my mind. Similarly for the other emergency services, there has been massive change not just in terms of what can be done, but also in how things are done.

A couple of years ago, as a response to Lady Justice Hallett’s inquest report, the Home Office initiated the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme. The aim was to develop national consistency regarding major and complex incident response. However, in London LESLP has been in place for over 40 years, and there was a sense from some corners of ‘we already do that’. True, the LESLP procedures do call for joint working and articulate organisational roles and responsibilities. However, I thought, wouldn’t it be an interesting exercise to compare Version 1 with Version 9 to see how things have changed? How have lessons from incidents have been incorporated into policy? What about international best practise and changes in national response capability, have they been included? And most importantly of all, wouldn’t this sort of historical analysis make for a fine blog piece!

However, tracking down the first edition is proving to be more problematic than I initially thought! The Met Police are the document owners, but the my colleagues there don’t have a copy. I’ve contacted the Cabinet Office and Emergency Planning College (who were able to send me a copy of Version 2, but didn’t have version 1). I’ve also contacted the Met Police Heritage Centre, the London Fire Brigade Museum and the Emergency Planning Society. I haven’t heard back from those organisations yet but I’m beginning to think that Version 1 might be a wild goose.

I hope that you’re able to help me in my search. I’m a big believer in the six degrees of separation. I know I’m only a connection away from finding someone who has what I’m after!



Signs of a past disaster

Signs of a past disaster

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At University I was introduced to two opposing geologic paradigms.

  • The Uniformitarianism made popular by Charles Lyell, which holds that the present is the key to the past; that processes in progress now have always been in progress in much the same way
  • This was in contrast to the idea of Catastrophism – the idea that Earth had been shaped by sudden, short-lived and violent events

These were presented to me as a dichotomy, you were either on one side of the fence or the other. A notion which seemed absurd to me – why couldn’t you have gradual change punctuated by more rapid events? And this is something which I think transcends the world of geology, with parallels in our own societies.

Each of us go about our daily business, we get up, go to work, pay taxes and go home. There’s a slight change every day which gradually changes the world around us, we recognise this as development or progress (or indeed decline). In addition to that, we occasionally experience more catastrophic events in the form of disasters, which exert massive change over comparatively short time-scales. Change results from both of these, there isn’t one dominant paradigm, but a combination of factors which shape both our world and our lives.

The signs of past disasters are all around us. Especially if you live in or visit London.


Today marks the anniversary of the ignition of the Great Fire of London in 1666 (play the game here!). This fire razed 80% of the walled city to the ground (however, it’s worth acknowledging that by this time, London’s conurbation had grown extensively and in total only around 25% of ‘London’ was affected). Over 13,200 buildings were destroyed, over 100,000 people made homeless. This was 347 years ago, and there have been many period of rebuilding, subsequent incidents and further rebuilding since then. Yet the scars of the Great Fire, which is commemorated by The Monument (you can climb the spiral stars to the top – I’d recommend it!) can still be seen in a few locations, if you know what to look for.

With a 2000 year history, London bears the scars of a variety of incidents which have befallen her. Some tangible, some less so, but there’s no shortage of reminders around you in London that as much as things might evolve day to day, there’s nothing like a catastrophe to bring about change.

DisasterTours can point out some of those scars, and give you some tips of preparing for London’s next emergency. Join us on our first tour on 19 October to uncover London’s disaster past.

Grabbing the Grab Bag

Grabbing the Grab Bag

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I was in San Francisco earlier this year, and met with Rob Dudgeon (Director of Emergency Services at San Francisco Department for Emergency Management) who showed me around the Emergency Operations Centre, a facility which I expect has been very busy over the past couple of days, following the Boeing 777 crash on Saturday.

SFO crashWith the NTSB investigation is still in progress I don’t want to comment too much, other than sharing this interesting Forbes piece Why Did So Many Passengers Evacuate With Bags?

It’s something that I think about every time I board a plane. I know that the correct thing to do is to just get out as quickly as possible without being slowed down by rummaging for bags. However, I’m sure we all have experience of workplace fire drills in the cold or rain where just a split second to grab a coat or umbrella could have made us much more comfortable in an unpleasant situation.

Moreover, for an emergency planner, not taking the Grab Bag that I have packed ready for these sorts of occasions seems to be contrary to their purpose.

I’m not bothered about my valuables – I know that the contents of my hold luggage is insured and that I can get them replaced. I’m also not going to need the latest holiday read, but some of the items in my hand luggage could be genuinely useful in the event of an emergency.

  • I  know I’m going to need to call people and I know that my iPhone has a battery life of a few hours at best. So I need my charger, and probably a plug adapter
  • I’m going to need to provide officials with information – having my wallet and passport to hand will help with that
  • If I’m lucky enough to survive the impact, I don’t suppose I’ll manage to stay clean and dry when leaving the aircraft, so whilst it might seem a luxury, actually having a change of clothes is advantageous
  • Other people could conceivably want to grab a few items too – the diabetic on oral hypoglycaemics or insulin, the parents who need to think about baby food…

Plane crashes, thankfully, don’t happen frequently. I’d estimate that I’ve deplaned in excess of 200 times and none of these have been under emergency conditions. We know that under stress people revert to what they know, which could explain the number of passengers who picked up their belongings.

Naturally there is a dynamic risk assessment which must take place. If the fire is raging towards me then I can forego the above, but if I have a couple of moments to grab some essentials without causing a blockage for other passengers then I think that’s a useful activity.

With airlines, particularly budget ones, forcing passengers hands into taking all their luggage as hand luggage (to avoid additional charges) are they contributing to increased evacuation times? Encourage people to bring hand luggage, but keep it to the small essentials in a soft sided bag (so that it doesn’t puncture the escape slides). Don’t tell people to have a grab bag but not to grab it.


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