Major Emergency Management (MEM) refers to managing emergencies that have the immediate potential (within seconds and or minutes) to rapidly escalate and impact multiple lives (fires, explosions, gas releases, etc.). Sites such as oil and gas facilities, smelters, power stations, mines (above and below ground), factories, fertilizer plants, buildings, terminals, ships, airports, rail operations and cities are examples of where major emergencies can occur and escalate rapidly. MEM training; therefore, is specifically applied to the development of a leadership style and command presence for a Person in Command (PIC) and his / her command team at an offshore or onshore industrial site.
It is common in major emergencies for personal stress factors to surface and limit a PICs ability to think clearly and function at a pace commensurate with a developing major emergency, especially when the PIC only has seconds or minutes to gain “situational awareness” prior to issuing an initial set of orders. Within industry, at the very minimum, a PIC must always have a supportive / well trained command team that can rapidly communicate critical information such as the emergency location (geography, access, escape routes and available safety systems), type of emergency / threat (fire, structural failure, gas release, human, etc.), potential for escalation, risks to personnel and responders; inclusive of the number of personnel missing, external support required and weather information such as wind direction.
Training and assessment in MEM for a PIC and his / her command team, through a combination of theoretical classroom lectures and high-paced simulation (4 days in total) is, without doubt, critical.
Building on the tactical responses of on-scene responders utilizing MEM, the Incident Command System (ICS) provides companies / organizations with the organizational process to support the longer-term strategic support needs and / or management of an emergency. The ICS approach to the command, control and coordination of emergency response is that it provides a common hierarchy within which responders from multiple agencies / organizations can be effective. ICS is, therefore, ideal for emergencies that may take days, weeks or even months to respond to and mitigate (fires, tornadoes, floods, ice storms, oil spills, earthquakes, disease outbreaks, hazardous materials accidents, criminal acts and planned events such as elections, festivals, sporting events and graduations). The list is endless.
Within industry, tactical responders utilising MEM at the location of a major emergency are strategically supported by an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) operating under the ICS system. As an example, an industrial facility with 500 personnel may suffer a fire and explosion. During the initial response, MEM is utilized at the facility to ensure the safety of the 500 personnel and to attack, or withdraw from, the fire. As an example, once all personnel are safe and the fire is out, the broader ICS process can be utilized for the response to a resulting oil spill into the ocean, a river or on land. Together MEM and ICS work extremely well together.
Working in English and Spanish, Emergency Management Advisors (previously Seacom International Inc.), has conducted several hundred MEM and ICS courses internationally.
Paul R. Clay is the author of the books Major Emergency Management and Incident Command System, both of which form part of the Offshore Emergency Management System (OEMS™) and Industrial Emergency Management System (IEMS™). © 1998 Paul R. Clay. All Rights Reserved.
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