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Former transport police Superintendent Tony Thompson has been appointed the new chair of the Emergency Planning Society (EPS), the professional association for emergency responders.

The EPS has over 1,200 members based in the UK’s emergency planning and civil contingency sector.

Tony said: “Emergency planning is sometimes seen by those who are not directly involved in the profession, as a concept or framework for dealing with emergencies. But it is much more than that. It is all about people who need our help when faced with often the most extreme, distressing and life-changing situations that they have ever encountered. The role of many of those who have joined the EPS, and those who will do so in the future, is to make a real difference to our professional response to helping such people. My role is to help the EPS make that difference.”

Tony thanked his predecessor, Helen Hinds, who he said had given so much time and personal commitment to the role, adding: “Helen has worked tirelessly with her fellow EPS Directors, and she has steered the organisation through some difficult times.”

Since 2010, membership of the EPS has halved, reflecting the level of job losses in Emergency Planning Units around the country, mainly in local government and the NHS.

Tony said: “My immediate thought on being told that I had been appointed was of great excitement, mixed with the recognition of the huge responsibility that I will be taking on. The recent austerity measures have taken their toll on our profession, but we are moving forward and will continue the revitalization of the EPS for the next generation of emergency managers, both in the public and private sectors.”

Tony began his career in the RAF before joining the British Transport Police where he served for 32 years, a period which covered the series of train disasters from Clapham Junction through to Potters Bar. On leaving BTP he was the government’s Regional Resilience Director for the South West Region for two years, and went on to become the Head of UK Emergency Response and Resilience for the Red Cross. In recent years he has been working as a consultant, mainly in the United Arab Emirates.

He was in the news during 2012-2013 for different reasons, when his 12 year old son, Joe, developed an extreme phobia of travel, and the media charted the family’s ordeal to return Joe from the UAE back to his home the UK in 2013.

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