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Emergencies

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Develop clearly documented and practised procedures for the full range of emergencies, from incident management through to crisis response.

For guidance on incident reporting see the 'incidents' section. For information on incident investigation processes go to the 'legislation' section.

Develop Scenarios

Establish realistic scenarios for your activity and determine your response procedures. Think through what could actually happen, include your team in this process and remember to review past incident information. The scenarios should cover the following areas:

  • Incidents that are able to be managed internally e.g. a client health issue or a vehicle malfunction
  • Emergencies that require external support e.g. bringing in help for a broken down vehicle in a remote location, or a 111 call for a serious injury
  • A crisis involving a threat of, or actual, loss of life which will be primarily managed externally e.g. where police and/or search and rescue are clearly required
  • Civil Emergency e.g. flood, tsunami, pandemic, earthquake, where emergency services and infrastructure are likely to be overwhelmed

Response Procedures

"I walk into our base some days and throw out a ‘what would you do if’ scenario. It’s simple, basic training, but it keeps our crisis plan top of mind..."

Content

Establish emergency procedures appropriate for each of the above scenarios. They should include relevant information on:

  • Step by step action plans  
  • What equipment is needed and where it will be located - including first aid
  • How you will ensure that everyone is accounted for
  • Communications in the field and/or at base e.g. which devices and how to use them, blind spots for coverage
  • Client and staff details, or where to find them,  including  medical information and next of kin or contacts
  • Required actions for recording and reporting during and after the event e.g. phone/radio logs for during the event, and a list of who to call and at what stage e.g. company owner, client next of kin
  • Contact information for other key stakeholders e.g. associations or business partners
  • A media response and/or victim support plan. Consider including other operators and local emergency services in the development of this, particularly for crisis level emergencies

Structure and Use

Ensure that your response procedures are:

  • In line with current industry practice
  • The focus of regular staff training
  • Easy to find and read when under stress e.g. flow diagrams
  • Able to be communicated within your team i.e. establish  definitions for severity that enable your team to clearly communicate which emergency response procedure is required
  • Clear about roles and responsibilities, including who is responsible for calling for outside help
  • Readily accessible  by staff - kept in the right places and in a useable form e.g. flowcharts, laminated
  • Regularly reviewed and up to date – someone must be responsible for making sure this happens

Training

Realistic emergency procedure training must be a welcomed and regular part of your operation. The more familiar you and your team are with the emergency procedures, the better you will manage and cope in a crisis. Training processes should be:

"Our operation is based in a small community; we use the local policeman as a sounding board, it’s reassuring to have another pair of trained eyes look over our thinking"

  • Included in induction and ongoing training
  • A learning process that ensures procedures are improved over time
  • Realistic and relevant
  • Comprehensive and include scenarios involving your entire team (consider including emergency services)
  • Part of your everyday safety culture e.g. asking a staff member where an emergency plan is located and/or giving them a scenario and asking how they would respond
  • Focused on both practising procedures and reviewing them
  • Thorough. Include everyone from field personnel to those who will be managing the base and communications
  • Documented e.g. what you did, who was there, any learning points and any follow-up actions to be taken
  • Fully debriefed. Allow time for this important process
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