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Civil Contingency

The Role of the Volunteer

An emergency can happen anywhere and at any time of day or night. A disaster can occur which may affect many thousands of civilians or just a few dozen, perhaps only one family or individual. A crisis may have ongoing consequences for an entire region or may only concern the smallest community.

Whenever the unthinkable happens in Scotland we have come to rely on the expert intervention of the professional emergency and rescue services. Similarly, we know that local and national authorities, the utility companies and the Armed Forces will be deployed depending upon the nature and scale of the incident.

No less skilful and appreciated are the additional organisations, comprising partly or wholly of volunteers, who may be called to assist. Included in this number are the RNLI, The British Red Cross, RAYNET, St Andrew's First Aid, the WRVS and many mountain rescue teams throughout Scotland.

In addition, individual volunteers unattached to any particular organisation may be involved in translation and interpretation services for example, or offering emotional support such as befriending and bereavement counselling.

When we learn of emergencies or incidents it is only natural and honest to wonder if there is anything which we could do to help. Usually, however, the best course of action is to stay well out of the way and let the professionals deal with the situation.

Nevertheless, as events in Scotland have shown, there is always a need for first class volunteers. COTAG presents an opportunity for enthusiastic individuals to support the work of the professional emergency services, local agencies and the various charitable organisations which are called out on our behalf to deal with civil emergencies.

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