Region wins award for emergency planning

Dumfries and Galloway has won a prestigious award for the emergency planning initiative of the year.

The regions persons at risk database (PARD) is a ground-breaking project that, during an emergency, enables responders access to identify the location of vulnerable people through data provided by social work services and the NHS.

Previous events in Dumfries and Galloway, particularly widespread flooding, showed that emergency responders weren’t able to quickly identify vulnerable people who might need assistance, particularly out of normal office hours.

The system uses geographic information system (GIS) mapping and national address gazetteers to select and display database information.

It is an effective, simple and intuitive system, which saves valuable time and enables responders to target assistance and scarce resources to those most in need of them.

The PARD is the culmination of a number of years of work to design and implement an effective solution to aid responders in identifying vulnerable people during emergencies.

Dumfries and Galloway Council led the multi- agency project, partnering with NHS Dumfries and Galloway and Police Scotland.

The need to incorporate information from social work services and NHS Dumfries and Galloway was recognised at an early stage of development and having a combined portal adds significant value.

As a result, this innovative system is the first in the country to achieve this level of data inclusion.

Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson said: “Protecting our most vulnerable people is a Council priority so I’m delighted that our region has been recognised nationally for an excellent project that does this.

“Our persons at risk database is a ground-breaking project, which enables responders to identify the location of vulnerable people through data provided by social work services and the NHS.

“I congratulate and thank everyone who was involved in developing this outstanding initiative.”

Obviously, this level of data sharing presented a number of challenges, such as assuring the NHS on how sensitive data would be managed and used.

The system doesn’t hold live data and is designed so that source data can only be accessed on demand and only from within identified PARD search criteria.

The award was presented by the Emergency Planning Society, which draws upon the expertise of its membership to provide independent expert advice to key decision-making bodies in the private and public sectors, including government.

The Society’s criteria for the award state that it ‘will be presented to an organisation/individual that has, in the judging panel’s opinion, found the most exceptional way to promote emergency planning to both the profession and to a wider audience.’

The Scottish Government Resilience Division has recognised the system as being best practice and is currently looking at options to develop it at national level.