The purpose of formal emergency management arrangements is to facilitate collaboration between different groups of people who play a role across the PPRR spectrum to manage any type of emergency that could occur.
The EMPLAN provides clarity as to command and control roles and coordination of functions in emergency management across all levels. It is vital to distinguish between these terms to describe roles and responsibilities
Emergencies will be controlled by either:
A Combat Agency is the agency identified in the State Emergency Management Plan as the agency primarily responsible for controlling the response to a particular emergency.
Animal, Plant Disease, Rodent or Insect Plague
Department of Primary Industries
Department of Primary Industries - Food Authority
Within a Rural Fire District - NSW Rural Fire Service With a Fire District - Fire and Rescue NSW
NSW State Emergency Service
On land and inland waters - Fire and Rescue NSW In State waters - Relevant Port Authority or Roads and Maritime Services outside of declared port areas
Law enforcement during a declaration
NSW Police Force
Marine oil & chemical spills
Relevant Port Authority or Roads and Maritime Services outside of declared port areas
Department of Health
Major structure collapse
Fire and Rescue NSW where a USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) response is required.
Major structure collapse emergencies are likely to require a multi-agency response that may or may not incorporate USAR. The Emergency Operations Controller controls elements of the response operation not directly under the control of the combat agency.
Where a Combat Agency has not been identified, for example, for earthquakes, landslides, heatwave and aviation emergency, the respective Emergency Operations Controller is responsible for the control of the response.
As we've already seen in this module, effective emergency management relies on many different organisations working together in a coordinated way.
Functional Areas are defined in the SERM Act 1989 and EMPLAN as a category of services involved in activities to prevent, prepare for, respond to or recover from an emergency.
They are business units within NSW Government agencies that perform specific emergency management functions.
They are usually in support of Combat Agencies or other Functional Areas during emergency operations. It is therefore critical that they are engaged in all stages of PPRR for those hazard types.
The functional areas are:
Functional Areas are not limited to supporting Combat Agencies in actual emergencies. They may in effect, perform a Combat Agency role in dealing with an emergency event, such as a supply chain crisis or infrastructure failure.
Other examples where Functional Areas perform a Combat Agency role include the Department of Health as the Combat Agency for Pandemic events, and the Department of Primary Industries for agriculture related issues like animal disease outbreak.
Functional Area Coordinators maintain overall responsibility for their respective functions. They are also appointed members of Emergency Management Committees to represent their functions.
At State and Regional levels, Functional Area Coordinators may establish sub-committees to assist. These sub-committees comprise representatives of government and non-government agencies.
Emergency Management Committees are responsible for planning for emergencies.
In keeping with the 'All Agency' approach to emergency management, there are three levels of committees. The SERM Act 1989 governs the structure of these committees and their responsibilities.
Representatives of relevant government and non-government agencies as determined by the Minister:
The role and functions of the SEMC are translated as appropriate at Regional level through Regional Emergency Management Committees (REMC) and at Local level through Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMC).
The SERM Act 1989 established Regions, as well as REMC roles, functions and relationships to SEMC. The local level is based on Local Government Areas (LGAs) or a combination of LGAs. Emergencies need to be managed at the lowest effective level.
NOTE: The Regional Emergency Management Officer (REMO) is not a member of the Committee but is the principal executive officer
In the exercise of its functions, the REMC is responsible to the State Emergency Management Committee.
NOTE: The Local Emergency Management Officer (LEMO) is not a member of the Committee but is the principal executive officer.
In the exercise of its functions, the LEMC is responsible to the Regional Emergency Management Committee.
As mentioned in the previous pages, the SEOCON, REOCON and LEOCON all sit on their respective Emergency Management Committees to contribute to planning for emergencies. The Emergency Operations Controller (EOCON) concept is a key part of the New South Wales approach. They are members of the NSW Police Force who are well versed in emergency management arrangements.
EOCON roles are appointed and performed at State, Regional and Local level. Emergency Operations Controllers assist the Combat Agency by coordinating support to them when requested to do so. EOCONs are supported by the relevant Emergency Operations Centre.
While Combat Agencies are authorised and equipped to control most emergencies, the Combat Agency may request that control or coordination is assigned to a designated authority. The SERM Act 1989 recognises that the EOCON will assume responsibility for operations where no specific Combat Agency is nominated, or where the Combat Agency requests the EOCON assume control.
The Emergency Operations Controller (EOCON) is responsible for the following at either State, Regional or Local level for which they are the designated controller: • Controls operations for which no combat agency has been identified and coordinates resources at the level (state, regional or local) • Carries out functions at the request of the combat agency responsible for controlling the response to an emergency or assumes control if required to do so • Activates the Emergency Operations Centre to an appropriate level whenever there is an emergency operation and resources and support are required • Ensures Impact Assessments are conducted to inform recovery arrangements
At STATE level the SEOCON: Is a member of the NSW Police Force senior executive service and provides advice to the Minister regarding emergencies, including whether or not a declaration of a 'State of Emergency' may be necessary.
At REGIONAL level, the REOCON: • Is appointed by the Commissioner of Police and is a police officer holding the position of Region Commander (Assistant Commissioner).
At the LOCAL level, the LEOCON: • Is appointed by the Regional Emergency Operations Controller (REOCON) • Is a police officer stationed within the region in which the local government area is located, and, in the opinion of the REOCON, must have experience in emergency management.
An emergency Operations Centre (EOC) can be established at State, Region or Local level by the relevant Emergency Operations Controller. It is the established centre of communication from which the Emergency Operations Controller either coordinates support to the Combat Agency or Functional Area or controls an emergency operation.
The State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC) is the centre from which the SEOCON monitors the emergency management environment in NSW and either controls an emergency operation, or coordinates recovery arrangements to the Combat Agency or Functional Area.
An Emergency Operations Centre:
When supporting an EOCON controlled operation, the EOC is also the focal point for operational planning, allocating response priorities by the Combat Agency, Emergency Service Organisations, Functional Areas and other Organisations. The centre collects, interprets and disseminates information and intelligence to stakeholders involved in the response.
Local and Regional Emergency Operation Centres are expected to keep the SEOC informed of their activities.
You may have heard the term 'State of Emergency' announced in the media. Did you know, though, that the vast majority of emergencies are actually managed without any declaration at all, and a 'State of Emergency' is extremely rare.
The SERM Act 1989 provides for the Premier of New South Wales to declare a 'State of Emergency' for up to 30 days over parts of, or the whole State when significant and widespread danger to life and/or property exists.
Declarations are rare because many of the Combat Agencies already have sufficient powers under their own specific legislation to enable them to perform their role. When it is in place however, it affords additional powers to emergency services officers.
"Disaster Recovery is the coordinated process of supporting disaster affected communities in the reconstruction of the physical infrastructure and the restoration of emotional, social, economic and physical wellbeing." Australian Emergency Management Handbook 2: Community Recovery, 2011
Disaster recovery is part of emergency management. Planning for recovery is integral to emergency preparation and mitigation actions may often be initiated as part of recovery.
The NSW Recovery Plan is a Supporting Plan of the EMPLAN. It outlines the strategies, authorities and the mechanisms for disaster recovery in NSW.
Recovery aims, as far as possible, to assist the affected community to manage its own recovery, while recognising that there may be a need for external technical, physical and financial assistance.
Successful recovery is based on