SS provides short-term services for individuals and families affected by disaster so they can begin to plan their next steps following a disaster. Reception centres (RC) are locations designated by the local ESS team, in cooperation with the local authority, as safe gathering places for people displaced from their homes as a result of an emergency or disaster. At the RC, individuals can register and receive these short-term services as well as information about the emergency situation.
Reception centres have sometimes been referred to as evacuation centres, registration centres, disaster relief centres, or family centres. The term reception centre describes the initial function of the centre – to receive evacuees who have been forced from their homes as a result of an emergency or disaster.
In order for an ESS team to effectively respond to a disaster, considerable planning must be completed in the pre-disaster phase by the ESS team. The ESS plan is part of the local emergency management plan and usually includes lists of local suppliers who have agreed to provide resources in the event of a disaster. Sites to be used for RCs will also have been identified during the pre-disaster planning phase, as well as contingency plans to deal with potential issues such as power outages, water shortages, and lack of resources.