Special feature: Inside the Casualty Bureau
Emergency volunteers and staff from Birmingham City Council have visited the West Midlands Police Casualty Bureau and provided this special feature about the facility.
The Casualty Bureau, or Incident Information Centre as it is also known, forms part of an emergency response following a major incident. It is run by West Midlands Police and provides the initial point of contact for members of the public to give information relating to friends or relatives who they believe may have been involved in the emergency.
A number of telephone lines are on permanent standby and trained call handlers are brought in to the designated facility to answer calls. All calls made to the centre are then logged which can, if necessary, provide information required to allow victims to be identified.
Normally the Police force in which the emergency occurs in provides the Casualty Bureau, however there are arrangements with other forces for the sharing of calls; for example if the demand is too high for one casualty bureau to handle.
The West Midlands Police Casualty Bureau is also responsible to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on a rota basis for the provision of cover should an incident occur overseas requiring a UK response, for example if an emergency overseas affects UK citizens such as the 2004 Tsunami.
In addition the centre can be activated to handle calls related to witness appeals or missing Children.
Veronica Coleman, Principal Emergency Planning Officer from the Birmingham Resilience Team explains, “During an emergency it is really important that we have a good understanding of the roles and responsibilities of other agencies.”
“These visits have provided some of our staff who volunteer for roles in an emergency a good understanding of the Casualty Bureau. It also showed how this links to Birmingham City Council’s Emergency Information Line and the advice we would give to individuals who have been affected by an emergency in Birmingham.”