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Archive for the ‘Emergency Management’ Category

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Anyone one knows me, or has spent any time reading some of my outbursts on social media, will know of my passion for volunteering, particularly in the emergency services.

I get really frustrated with people who seem to want to take, take, take, but never give anything back. I get particularly frustrated with the industry in which I work (IT), where people are pretty well paid for what they do, but generally speaking, don’t feel compelled to give anything back to the community. Those of you IT folk that do, you rock!

To put a positive spin on all this, I was really proud of the folks from my State Emergency Service (SES) unit yesterday. How’s this for involvement?

  • 4 members (including our controller) with 2 vehicles and a pump trailer assisting with the flood in the north-east of the state;
  • 8 members involved in storm-related jobs or being on stand by as duty officers within our own area (the southern half of the City of Kingston);
  • 7 members (or thereabouts) with 2 boats, providing support to the Chelsea Yacht Club for an event;
  • 4 members doing storm training at Broadmeadows.

All of this was after 11 members dealt with 14 jobs locally, during the winds on Friday afternoon and evening. And you know what? They’ll be doing it all again today.

Chelsea SES – you rock!

If you’re reading this and you don’t actively give anything back to your community as a volunteer, why don’t you have a good think about how you can change that?

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The Saints and the Hawks will once again battle for the annual Blue Ribbon Cup when the two teams meet in Round 8 at the MCG on Sunday. The Blue Ribbon Cup was established in 1999 in memory of two Victoria Police officers Sergeant Gary Silk, a Hawthorn member and Senior Constable Rodney Miller, a Richmond supporter who were killed in the line of duty at Moorabbin in August 1998. The St Kilda Football Club supports the Blue Ribbon Cup as the officers lost their lives in the line of duty in Moorabbin. (from the St Kilda F C members’ newsletter)

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A big three cheers to all the volunteers from Warragul SES and the Lions Club for their manning of the Driver Reviver post at Longwarry North today. An excellent service for all of us travelling back from Gippsland – managed extremely well and in a very friendly manner.

Bravo!

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How did you spend New Year’s Eve? I know how I spent mine – in the Municipal Emergency Operations Centre (MEOC) for Melbourne City, as Red Cross’s representative for the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Red Cross had been contracted to provide first aid in Federation Square.

It’s just short of 9:00pm. The fact that I have time to be typing this is really quite surprising – things are fairly quiet for our first aiders at the moment.

Many people I talk to about my Red Cross liaison activities don’t really appreciate the organisation that goes into putting these events on, including our first aiders. Let me try and give you a quick snapshot.

We are all located in an extremely large room on the ground floor of Melbourne Town Hall. A quick head count has come up with 32 people who are currently in the room, which is set up with a work area for each agency. Each person is generally equipped with all sorts of combinations of laptops, radios, computer screens, phones, etc, etc. Each person wears a tabbard to identify the agency they represent – I am currently wearing a very fetching orange number with “First Aid” across the front and back, because the council doesn’t have a Red Cross-specific one.

As you can see, we also have two large screens on which are currently displayed a log of issues and the BOM weather radar, which is tracking the big storm about to hit. If necessary, we can display images from a number of cameras spread around the city, to hone in on particular areas of concern. There are also white boards and maps for use by any agencies if required.

It is an amazingly well oiled machine. So who is represented in the MEOC?

  • Melbourne City
  • Victoria Police
  • Ambulance Victoria
  • Metropolitan Fire Brigade
  • St John’s Ambulance
  • Red Cross
  • Yarra Trams
  • Metro Trains
  • Department of Transport
  • Traffic management companies
  • Cleaning companies
  • Security companies
  • Event management
  • Risk management
  • Radio supplier
  • Salvation Army
  • Parks Victoria
  • Fireworks company

Phew!

Oh look, the Lord Mayor’s just dropped in.

Everyone here fundamentally has two roles – to ensure the safe and successful management of the event and to liaise between each other where an issue requires the intervention of more than one agency, e.g. Red Cross requiring an Ambulance Victoria vehicle. I am also looking after all the two-way radio traffic for our Red Cross team members.

I arrived about 5:15pm and expect to knock off at this stage about 2:00am tomorrow morning. With the rain, who knows, we might even get away early.

And on that note, it’s time to finish typing as things are starting to get busy. I’ve just organised the first ambulance to attend our first aid post, no doubt the first of many. Hope you had (or will have) a safe New Year’s Eve. I know I did.

Happy New Year!

And to all my Red Cross colleagues, congratulations. You rock!

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I was super-impressed to hear that a colleague has recently joined up with the SES. He has a full day training session today. Nice work.

We need all the emergency services volunteers we can get. Whether it’s working with our great volunteers at Red Cross, or with other teffific groups like CFA or SES, we need you. Please think about how you can help and join up.

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Well, isn’t that a mouthful?

I wanted to spend a bit of time blogging about AIIMS. Why? Firstly, it’s something that I need to become much more strongly across than I am at the moment. I figure that if I have to write about it, to do that properly, I’ll need to read all the material I’ve got so far. Secondly, for those of you who aren’t closely involved in emergency services, I wanted to give a bit of an insight into the structured way that incidents should be managed. It’s not simply a matter of rushing around pointing wet stuff at hot stuff so to speak, and hoping it all ends up OK.

As the title indicates, AIIMS is an incident management system, or methodology, that is or will be used by a number of different emergency service agencies in Australia. Red Cross is in the process of implementing AIIMS for incident management.

So why introduce AIIMS? There are three key positives from my perspective. Firstly, it just makes extremely good sense to approach incident management in a methodological, structured way, just like most other things we do. Cooks do things according to recipes, ambulance officers have protocols, pilots have checklists. Why wouldn’t emergency management be undertaken based on an appropriatly documented, structured approach? Perhaps it seems more logical to me because I’ve worked in IT for 30 years and we are absolutely conditioned to doing things based on methodologies.

The second positive about AIIMS is it is scalable. Not all Red Cross activations will be of the magnitude of the recent bushfires. Indeed, when I was activated this afternoon to provide 25 meals to emergency services personnel at a police-controlled incident, my first thought was how I should manage it according to the AIIMS guidelines.

Thirdly, the first I in AIIMS stands for Inter-service – AIIMS has already been rolled out amongst the various fire authorities and is being progressively rolled out by other emergency service organisations. This means the various agencies will be able to more easily and effectively work together at the same incident, based on a consistent management approach.

So what are the key aspects of AIIMS? The first thing to understand is it is all about management by objectives. An Incident Action Plan (IAP) is developed to document priorities, objectives, strategies and tactics. Indeed, this is exactly the same as what should happen in business, with the development of a business strategy and the accompanying tactics that will be used to achieve the strategy.

The following diagram nicely shows the functional structure associated with implementing the IAP.

The grey box shows the Incident Management Team, which comprises four roles, namely Red Cross Commander, Planning Officer, Operations Officer and Logistics Officer. To put it simply, the Red Cross Commander is responsible for the management of the incident. The Planning Officer and all his subordinates are the “thinkers”. Similarly, the Logistics people are the “getters” and the Operations people are the “doers”. Put another way, the planners gather information, prepare plans and strategies and provide administrative support. The logisticians obtain and maintain human and physical resources. The operations people manage activities and resources.

To make it easy to identify relevant people in the hurly burly of an emergency operations centre, different coloured tabards are used for the different functions, white for Red Cross Commander, yellow for Planning, red for Operations and blue for Logistics.

The diagram above shows a range of different units sitting within the Planning and Logistics functions. This is meant to be a brief summary of AIIMS, so I won’t go into that detail here. Suffice to say, in a big incident like the February fires, most of these units were in action as part of Red Cross’s response. For my activation this afternoon, I was Red Cross Commander as well as wearing the yellow, red and blue. I had one person as a team member within Operations, who picked up and delivered the meals. I felt like Joseph with his technicolour dream coat. Only joking of course, but a good example of the scalability.

Hopefully this has given a good high-level insight into the implementation of AIIMS at Red Cross. There’s a lot of work needs to go into the implementation over the coming months, but I reckon it will be great when it’s up and running.

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The evidence seems to be mounting that the Country Fire Authority (CFA) is going to end up being the whipping boy as a result of the Royal Commission into the February fires in Victoria. The Sunday Age (May 31, 2009, page 3) is reporting that the CFA believes the senior counsel assisting the commission is “prosecuting” its members. It also reports the CFA is considering briefing its own lawyers as a result of its dissatisfaction with those appointed by the State Government.

I want to state my absolute support for the CFA, and all emergency services organisations involved in the fires. Victoria has never before had to deal with a tragedy of such magnitude. While every emergency service will identify areas that it could have done better, all emergency services personnel should stand tall.

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