Working together for a resilient Birmingham.

My week with the Resilience Team – Kizzy Bent

Day 1 –Olympics Briefing

On arrival I was introduced to the team and given a tour of the office facilities. The team were very friendly and Mariola, Principal Emergency Planning Officer made me feel very welcome as though I was already a member of the team.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was impressed how the office also acted as a fully operational control centre in the midst of an emergency crisis!  It was really assuring to experience how The BRT team was there behind the scenes helping Birmingham be prepared for any emergency and equipped with the technology to respond and keep up to date with events.

My first activity involved observing a multi-agency meeting which discussed the security and schedule arrangements for the imminent arrival of the USA and Jamaican athletes.  I was thrilled to be part of the meeting given the Olympics are such a high profile event especially as the spotlight from worlds media would be on Birmingham.  Excitement aside, the meeting got me thinking of the links to be made with Environmental Health. Through my trainee Environmental Health eyes I thought about food safety. It would be unthinkable that an Olympic athlete should contract poisoning from a Birmingham restaurant or catering establishment!

Day 2- Risk Assessments

I was asked to write a risk assessment for the team for an Environmental Health perspective on an emergency response to flooding.  I’ve never had opportunity to write such an assessment before so I rose to the challenge.  I used my personal experience as an enforcement officer dealing with the aftermath of the flooding that occurred in Sparkhill in 2007.  I thought about the effects not just on residents but the many food businesses and traders that were affected and the advice they needed from the council to advise when it was safe from an infection control perspective, to reopen for business.

Melanie has the lead responsibility for flooding in the team.  Melanie gave me a thorough overview the work she has done working towards the multi-agency flood plan for Birmingham. Melanie also gave me a synopsis of the work she developed to help promote flood preparedness to Birmingham residents.  I was particularly interested to learn about the flood-gates installed in some of the worst affected parts of the city and the funding that had been secured to carry-out the scheme.

Day 3- Olympic Trail

I attended Birmingham University’s Central Kitchen for a food hygiene inspection carried about by Food Safety Officers from Environmental Health.  I was interested to attend as this kitchen would be providing all the meals for the Jamaican Athletes. This visit proved a nice link from my observations with the BRT planning team to Environmental Health.  I saw how the EHO’s role fits into the wider strategic emergency planning aspects of hosting an Olympic team.

Day 4- Her Majesty the Queen’s visit to Birmingham

Another highlight of the week!  I observed how BRT are involved in the planning and security aspect of a high profile event such as this.  Jawaid, Emergency Planning Officer, was leading on this event and he was the BRT representative at the Police Events Control Suite.   I felt very privileged to be at BRT with all the high profile events taking place during the week.

On reflection of my time spent with BRT.  I’ll most remember the dedication and commitment each team member has in their duties as officers in preparing Birmingham for emergencies.  The team are resilient by name and resilient by nature.  Thanks BRT.

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