Find out about:
- Bedfordshire Local Emergency Volunteers Executive Committee (BLEVEC)
- BLEVEC aims
- Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
- Independent Emergency Volunteers
- BLEVEC Commanders
- Business Members
- Emergency Faith Advisors
- Mental Wellbeing Emergency Response Team
Please read the information below before applying to be a volunteer.
Need more information before signing up?
If you want to help your local community during an emergency but aren’t a member of emergency services or a community organisation then email us at BLRF@bedsfire.gov.uk to arrange a chat about the options available.
Bedfordshire Local Emergency Volunteers Executive Committee (BLEVEC)
The Bedfordshire Local Emergency Volunteers Executive Committee (BLEVEC) is the organisation of the volunteer members of the Bedfordshire Local Resilience Forum (BLRF).
Bedfordshire Local Resilience Forum (BLRF) comprises the county’s emergency services and other key partners such as local authorities, utility companies and volunteers working in partnership to plan, prepare and respond to major incidents.
BLEVEC volunteers are crucial in emergency planning, enabling statutory bodies to understand the preparedness of communities, with close bonds to local communities. BLEVEC utilises people’s willingness to help during a major emergency in a controlled, directed environment across global organisations, local businesses, charities and community teams.
Organisations involved in the BLEVEC partnership offer a wide range of support, ranging from:
- air support
- search and rescue
- first aid
- food provision
- practical and emotional support
Some examples of the organisations involved include:
- Age UK
- Beds & Cambs 4x4 Response
- Bedford Hospital Emergency Volunteers
- Bedfordshire Multi-Faiths Emergency Response Teams
- Bedfordshire Rural Communities Trust (BRCC)
- BIRD (British International Search & Rescue Dogs)
- British Red Cross
- Community Action: MK
- Citizens Advice Bureau
- Civil Air Support
- Disability Resource Centre (DRC)
- Herts Boat Rescue
- L&D Hospital Emergency Volunteers
- Midshires Search & Rescue (MSAR)
- Salvation Army
- St John Ambulance
BLEVEC aims to:
- develop a large network of voluntary community support (VCS) organisations
- develop a large network of business volunteers
- have a community emergency response team (CERT) set up in every village, town or parish
- have a large group of trained independent emergency volunteers
- have a group of highly trained and equipped Commanders to coordinate the response effort and be leaders in multi-agency command and control groups
- develop a network of faith leaders that can provide advice, expertise and support to responders and those affected by an emergency
How to get involved
There are a number of different groups and roles available to get involved with BLEVEC:
- Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
- Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Member Organisation
- BLEVEC Commander
- BLEVEC Business Member
- BLEVEC Independent Emergency Volunteer
- BLEVEC Emergency Faith Advisor
Support for you
If you're involved with BLEVEC you will:
- have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week support from the BLEVEC Duty Officer
- be invited to monthly training sessions on emergency management (currently virtual) from 7pm to 9pm on the second Tuesday of each month
- get access to various Bedfordshire Emergency WhatsApp groups with all BLEVEC members included for fast call out deployment, information gathering and communications
- be supported by the BLEVEC committee. They meet twice a year with a representative from each organisation and CERT. The committee provides a forum to discuss issues, lessons from incidents and how to make improvements for the future
What is a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)?
A Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a group of local members, linked directly with BLEVEC and the local council Emergency Planning Team. They provide important information, intelligence and a quick form of communication should an incident occur.
A CERT group should include people and organisations that help sustain the community. For example:
- town or parish council
- local emergency service workers
- Neighbourhood Watch
- community group leaders
- local schools
- GP surgery and local doctors or nurses
- care homes
- local shop, Post Office or takeaway
- a place of worship
- local farmers/people with specialist equipment (generators etc.)
- local charities
- community/village hall and key holders
A CERT can help the community become more resilient in the following ways
Before an emergency
A CERT will:
- warn and inform
- help individuals and families prepare for emergencies
- complete a Community Emergency Plan
- take delivery and manage a small emergency kit - If there is a risk of flooding there may be a need for a community flood kit
- promote business continuity to local businesses and schools
- identify hazards
- Identify vulnerable people
- help in pre-planned incidents with community impact assessment
- promote community fire safety
- notifying authorities of blocked drainage ditches
- local water supply knowledge: lakes, access, hard standing, hydrants
During an emergency
A CERT will:
- be involved in information and intelligence gathering and monitoring
- set-up and run assistance centres to provide practical and emotional support
- help with warning, informing and assisting the vulnerable
- assist in snow and ice clearance
- deploy community resources to assist people and emergency services
- provide emergency first-aid
After an emergency
A CERT will:
- provide a voice for the community
- run a community recovery centre
- do an impact assessment
- identify community needs and priorities
- organise community and business meetings
- identify and assist with animal and pet health and welfare
- assist in managing commemorations
- identify lessons for the future
Further information on Independent Emergency Volunteers
Emergency volunteers may be deployed to an incident where assistance is required by statutory authorities and emergency services. The incident may be a local situation, a major incident or a prolonged emergency:
- a major fire resulting in the evacuation of residents
- impact of severe adverse weather - snow, flooding, storms
- a major incident involving aircraft, vehicles, trains
- the aftermath of a terrorist incident
- a pandemic situation where vulnerable people are at risk
In most cases, volunteers will be deployed to an Assistance Centre or Evacuation Centre and asked to undertake a range of tasks dependent on capabilities and skills.
This could include:
- transporting people or material
- car park marshalling
- registering those coming in and out of the centre
- looking after children or young people
- facilities management - keeping centres adequately supplied and clean
- providing refreshments
- providing emotional or mental health support
- providing advice and guidance
- providing basic hygiene and welfare packs
Volunteers work as part of a team with a supervising team leader, working on a shift basis that may last between six to 12 hours.
Specific requirements for an emergency volunteer
Emergency volunteers will need:
- DBS clearance
- to undergo induction by BLEVEC or a voluntary organisation
- to attend an Assistance Centre Operative training session
- a high level of interpersonal skills
- good communication ability
- awareness of equality and diversity issues and non-discriminatory practice
- awareness and ability to follow safeguarding procedures for vulnerable groups
- to cope with a chaotic environment and constantly changing demands
- to work as part of a team of volunteers
- to identify own personal practical and emotional needs, ensuring self-wellbeing
Further information on BLEVEC Commanders
BLEVC Commanders will be at the forefront of emergency response that requires the assistance of BLEVEC emergency volunteers.
Commanders are trained to know the capabilities of all BLEVEC Organisations and be directly involved in the command and control groups along with the emergency services, local authorities, health and all other key emergency responders. Commanders will receive a resource pack containing essential items for responding to an emergency.
There are three commander roles.
BLEVEC Strategic Commander: represent the BLEVEC partnership and members at the Strategic Coordinating Group (SCG) or on the Recovery Coordinating Group (RCG)
BLEVEC Tactical Commander: represent the BLEVEC partnership and members at the Tactical Coordinating Group (TCG) and/or a BLRF Teleconference
BLEVEC Operational Commander: represent the BLEVEC partnership and members at the Forward Control Point (FCP) at the scene of an emergency or at a specific operational location. A BLEVEC Commander will assess the situation, suggest where volunteer resources might be useful and deal with requests for volunteer resources from the emergency services.
Further information on Business Members
Private businesses can sign-up to offer assistance to communities in a major emergency.
This could be part of a corporate social responsibility policy and the support offered could be in the form of a business service, food & refreshments, donation of goods, transport, storage or time towards aiding during an emergency. Businesses may also wish to link directly to the local CERT.
Further information on Emergency Faith Advisors
Faith Advisors play an important role in providing culturally and religiously appropriate solace to victims to help them endure and overcome the stress from the trauma of an incident. Faith Advisors provide emotional support as part of a wider team, which may include other groups providing secular support, such as the Samaritans. The Emergency Faith Advisors Group links directly to the emergency response and recovery network.
Mental Wellbeing Emergency Response Team
In every emergency and major incident as well as the practical impact on people’s lives such as being evacuated, homes being flooded, and not being able to get essential supplies, there will also be a mental health impact.
The impact of a traumatic event can result in shock, distress, fear, confusion, and anxiety. In the longer term if not properly supported individuals may develop post-traumatic shock, and depression and it may even lead to suicidal thoughts.
Our Mental Wellbeing Emergency Response Team join our emergency response efforts to help people look after their mental health needs in and after an emergency and have the skills and knowledge to link into longer-term wellbeing services.