What is an emergency?

What is an Emergency?

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (CCA) defines an emergency as "an event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a place in the UK, the environment of a place in the UK, or war or terror which threatens serious damage to the security of the UK."

What is a 'Major Incident'?

The emergency services and emergency planning community use the term 'Major Incident' to describe an emergency that requires special arrangements to be made by one or more of the emergency services, and usually includes the involvement of large numbers of people (either directly or indirectly). Other agencies such as Local Authorities, the National Health Service of the Environment Agency, the Military or voluntary agencies may be involved in the response or recovery.

A major incident may require:

  • The initial treatment, rescue and transportation of a large number of people.
  • The involvement, either directly or indirectly, of large numbers of people.
  • The handling of a large number of enquiries likely to be generated both from the public and the news media, usually made to the police.
  • The need for large scale combined resources of the Police, Fire and Rescue Service and Ambulance Service.
  • The mobilisation and organisation of the emergency services and partner organisations, for example, a Local Authority, to facilitate arrangements made necessary by the threat of death, serious injury or homelessness to a large number of people.

For specific health purposes, a major incident may be defined as: "any occurrence which presents a serious threat to the health of the community, disruption to the service, or causes (or is likely to cause) such members or types of casualties as to require special arrangements to be implemented by hospitals, ambulance services or health authorities."