Bridgend County Borough Council,Civic Offices, Angel Street, Bridgend, CF31 4WB

Tel: 01656 643643
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What is a Major Incident/ Disaster?

Though thankfully disasters are a rare occurrence, they can strike suddenly, occur anywhere and are often caused by an unexpected means. Recent examples of disasters affecting Britain include wide scale flooding, industrial explosions and acts of terrorism but they may also be caused by chemical incidents, transport accidents or severe weather.

In preparing to respond to such incidents, the emergency services and partner agencies refer to disasters as ‘major incidents’ so that the appropriate level of response is ensured to meet the needs of the incident. The Civil Contingencies Act offers a definition for such events under the term ‘Emergency’ but the three terms disaster, major incident and emergency may be considered as one and the same. The definition is as follows:

‘An event or situation that threatens serious damage to human welfare . . . the environment or the security of the United Kingdom’.

(Emergency Response and Recovery)

The above definition encompasses a wide range of threats including, loss of life, serious injury, homelessness, large scale loss of communications and disruption to health or communication services. (A comprehensive list is available on the UK Resilience website).

In addition to this, under the definition as laid out by the Civil Contingency Act, the incident threatening the UK must be so great that responding agencies require resources that are beyond the scope of their normal day to day operations.

Many agencies have a role to play in responding to an emergency including the Council who would be required to assist the emergency service as far as possible, while helping to ensure the safety and welfare of its residents. More information on the role of the Council in preparing for and responding to emergencies, as well as an explanation of multi-agency joint working, is available using the link on the left.

There are different types of emergencies:

Natural hazards such as snow, floods & gales

Manmade disasters such as rail accidents, motorway pileups

Industrial accidents such as oil spills, factory fires


Food poisoning and disease outbreaks such as BSE, foot and mouth and E-coli

Last Updated: 11/03/2013
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