AIR RAID PRECAUTIONS SERVICES: United
Kingdom. World War II. Contemporary descriptions of the various functions
performed by civil defense workers in the United Kingdom include:
WARDEN - Wardens performed initial reconnaissance on incident scenes and reported the incident to the Wardens' Post and Control Center. To be effective in this role they had to know their area intimately, including the streets, buildings, and residents. In addition, Wardens served an important role in steadying the population and in performing a wide variety of rescue and mass care tasks. Wardens' Posts were typically staffed by six Wardens.
FIRE GUARDS - Local Fire Guards, especially in industrial facilities, were organized in small fire parties equipped with stirrup pumps. The Fire Guard system provided rapid detection and reporting of a fire, did initial expedient fire fighting to control small fires, and provided messenger reporting from observation posts to assembly points to consolidate and reduce the volume of telephone reports.
FIREMEN - Firemen performed classic fire suppression duties, even during the period an air raid was taking place.
RESCUE MEN - Rescue Men performed heavy rescue, including tunneling through debris and into collapsed buildings, shoring damaged structures, freeing victims from entrapment, and rescue and lowering from upper stories of buildings.
FIRST AID PARTY - First Aid Parties were composed of four men and a driver, trained in first aid by one of the voluntary society programs (Red Cross, St. John's Ambulance, or St. Andrew's Society. First aid parties assisted Rescue Men in rescuing trapped victims, performed triage, provided initial care, and determined transportation decisions for patients.
AMBULANCE DRIVER - Ambulance Drivers and Attendants transported litter patients from the First Aid Party to either the First Aid Post or hospital.
FIRST AID POST - Fixed and mobile First Aid Posts provided care for patients, either at some distance from the incident site, or, in the case of mobile posts, on site. In addition, mobile posts could be used to reinforce a fixed post or emergency hospital facing heavy casualty loads. They were staffed by Doctors, nurses, and nursing auxiliaries.
VOLUNTARY SERVICES - The Women's Voluntary Service, the Young Men's Christian Association, the National Council of Social Service, the British Red Cross, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the Friends Ambulance Unit, and others performed a wide variety of mass care functions. They staffed Rest Centers for displaced bombing victims and provided mobile feeding in the impact area in the Queen's Messenger Convoys and mobile canteens for both victims and the rescue services. In addition they performed donations management functions, receiving donated clothing and operating clothing depots to meet victim needs, and provided a wide range of transportation services. The Women's Voluntary Service were responsible for managing the Volunteer Car Pool Scheme which made privately owned vehicles available in a central Regional pool.
EVACUATION - In addition, the Women's Voluntary Service was assigned responsibility for evacuation schemes by the Ministry of Health in September 1939. County Councils appointed Billeting Officers, often Women's Voluntary Service members, to oversee District Visitors, who in turn organized Welfare Committees in each village. This structure absorbed the teachers and children evacuated from London during the period of the Blitz.
GENERAL POST OFFICE EXCHANGE - The operator staffs on local exchange switchboards handled all the emergency telephone calls for civil defense, using standard cable and plug switchboards. Although not generally recognized, the ability to maintain telephone communications was critical to effective resource mobilization.
MESSENGERS - When telephone services failed due to damage, dispatch riders on bicycles provided a primary means of communications.
POLICEMEN - Police constables performed virtually every type of civil defense work, including incident detection, taking charge of incidents (except in London), security, traffic control, expedient firefighting, first aid, rescue, notification of next of kin, and welfare inquiries.
Sources: Spender, Stephen, Citizens in War - And After, London, United Kingdom, George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1945. United Kingdom, British Information Services, Front Line: The Official Story of the Civil Defense of Britain, New York, New York, United States of America, The MacMillan Company, 1943.