Posts Tagged ‘AIIMS’

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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