A Response focuses on the immediate efforts to limit further impact, harm, or disruption of service, the protection of property and above all else the safety of people. Responses require some type of Incident Management System (IMS) to organize and control the response initiative and to guide & support the responders.
The response consists of an Initial response, Crisis Management, and Consequence Management.
The initial response is the venue of the responding agencies (usually Police, Ambulance and Fire) managing the direct effects of an extreme event effecting the population or infrastructures. To be response ready, a community requires a management strategy, all hazards plan, completed mitigation plans, preparedness plans, training programs, exercises and an evaluation process…….all of which has been resourced, trained and tested.
There are 7 phases to a response:
- Post Event
The trigger event may come from many different sources depending on the event type, location, and timing. That trigger event activates a response of the system now in place, centering on the response activation of the Command Control model.
When the initial responders arrive at the scene, one of the first tasks is to assess the situation and respond and procure resources as required. Once a full understanding of the situation is at hand appropriate resources both human and material are brought on-line.
From an emergency response perspective some of the human resources may include: police, ambulance and fire personnel in proportion to the event, extra security for crowd control, liaisons for the relaying of information, extra equipment and disposables, emergency ‘mode’ activation of medical facilities, mutual aid fire assistance etc.
From a BCP perspective activation of appropriate pre-established teams (when safety permits) to work with the responders and the CMT to start the business recovery process. Some of the teams are:
The initial task of the Security Team is to lock down the affected workspace, maintain the integrity of the space, prevent any compromise to future investigations, restrict entrance by staff and others and assist in any evacuations. The Security Team lead will formulate a situation report and have it delivered to the EOC or the Crisis Management Team as directed.
Damage Assessment Team
Once the building or workspace has been declared safe for entry by an appropriate agency (Police, Fire or Building Inspector), the Damage Assessment Team will conduct a through, comprehensive and systematic assessment of the facility and formulate a situation report and have it delivered to the EOC or the Crisis Management Team as directed.
Crisis Management Team
The Crisis Management Team is activated when high level strategic decisions, direction or guidance are required or when there is an event that has or could trigger a significant interest in the public or the press (Media). Safeguarding the Community’s honour, integrity and reputation is a key role for the Crisis Management Team. If there is no immediate tangible role for the CMT to provide, they still require a briefing on the present event circumstances, the Community response, the current state of business and the expected outcomes and issues. When the EOC is operational, the EOC Manager is tasked with this responsibility. If the EOC is not operational and the Duty Officer / Administrator on Call is managing the event, it is their responsibility to apprise the CMT.
The Operational phase addresses mostly the immediate ‘damage control’ consequence management of the event or interruption. The Operational phase is generally the most intense of the phases as most events are spontaneous and quick to happen. Activation is usually rapid and once the system is activated, everyone notified and having responded and in position, the work of ‘making sense’ of what has happened occurs.
During site response management, the site management may change hands based on the tasks at hand, fire may be in command during the time required for fire suppression, the medical commander may be in charge while medical triage and response is effected, police may stay on site after fire and medical crews have left to maintain a secure perimeter for investigation. This type of site management is referred to as Unified Command where the leads of each responding agency manage their respective components not in isolation of the others but collaboratively with the others, stepping in and out of command as required.
The EOC Operational Phase assembles all known facts and issues and starts the short term planning initiatives. Operational phase indicates to those internally and externally that business is NOT normal and Crisis Management needs to be in the forefront of planning initiatives. Over time the rhythm of the EOC management cycles becomes more cyclic and the workload becomes more paced and manageable, the management team can settle in to manage the issues in a more thorough and methodical means. Unless there is a need to escalate the response the team can move forward into the Stabilization phase.
If the characteristics of an event gets worse or more external resources are required or the response effort lengthens in time, the situation in fact escalates requiring a more aggressive approach to its response. The escalation phase is a re-newed effort that requires greater management from all stakeholders.
Event stabilization occurs when there is a diminished workload and a sense of being overwhelmed or being very busy at the site or in the EOC has dissipated. The event becomes manageable by the responders and requests and issues settle down after the initial activation. The responders now can do what they do best, police secure the area, investigate, find evidence; paramedics tend to the injured; fire fighters conduct fire suppression. Work continues until there is either a further escalation or the event becomes more manageable and less and less of an event.
The EOC falls into a rhythm with regular business cycles, situation reports and planning sessions rather than mitigating severe issues and performing damage control. The EOC functions are maintained at this level until either further escalation is required or the event begins to become more managed and fewer resources are being requested and there is a lessened reliance on the EOC for support. During the stabilized operational time, creature comforts must be maintained; rotation of staff (shifts), meals and respite or rest breaks should be scheduled and enforced.
As the demands on the site responders and the EOC diminishes, the staffing and resources can be reduced to the appropriate authorities and skill sets to manage the current events. De-Mobilization occurs at the discretion of the Incident Site Manager at the site and the EOC Manager in the EOC. If the EOC has not been convened, the Duty Officer / Administrator on Call. Individuals can be released after a quick ‘Hotwash’ defusing.
Once the fire is out, the patients all transported to hospital, forensic evidence is collected and there is no longer a need to maintain an emergency presence, the Site Manager will ‘stand down’ the operation and ‘put everything back into the box’, by send all responding agencies back to their respective bases.
Once the event diminishes to the point where the EOC is contributing nothing of value to an event or the event has terminated, the EOC and the community’s emergency response must be decommissioned.
Termination occurs at the discretion of the EOC Manager or if the EOC has not been convened, the Duty Officer / Administrator on Call.
Once the final entries are placed in the log books, the EOC Manager signs off on the Master Log, the equipment are stored and the current EOC Members are dismissed after a ‘hotwash’ defusing
7. POST EVENT
All responding agencies and the EOC staff are encouraged to go through a debriefing process as soon as possible post response; people are cared for (defusing, CISM counselling etc); reports are generated, equipment is checked – refurbished – re-stocked, cleaned and stowed appropriately for the next time, plans and SOPs are reviewed – changed and training is done.