Definition of Terms Used - Glossary

A glossary of terms used within the Joint Doctrine Edition Two.

Aim A short, precise and measurable statement of the desired end state which an effort or activity is intended to bring about.
Capability A demonstrable ability to respond to and recover from a particular threat or hazard.
Command The exercise of vested authority, that is associated with a role or rank within an organisation, to give direction in order to achieve defined objectives. Command is carried out by those who have been given authority (through role or rank) over others, for a specific operation or incident, to make decisions and give direction in order to achieve jointly defined and agreed objectives. Personnel who provide subject matter expertise or advice do so in support of the Operations or Tactical Commander and as part of the Command Support Team.
Commander Personnel who, by function or rank, are charged with ensuring the readiness of their teams, forces or organisations to discharge their stated duties and obligations.
Control The application of authority, combined with the capability to manage resources, in order to achieve defined objectives. Control is defined as the authority and capability of an organisation to direct the actions of its own personnel. While one emergency service cannot exercise command over another, it may be appropriate for service commanders to grant the authority to exercise control of their organisation’s personnel or assets to a co-ordinating group or commander of the designated lead service for a specific task.
Co-ordination The integration of multi-agency efforts and available capabilities, which may be interdependent, in order to achieve defined objectives. Co-ordination occurs at one or more of three ascending levels Operational, Tactical and Strategic, with national level co-ordination in the most serious of emergencies.
Emergency An event, situation or incident which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a place in the UK, the environment of a place in the UK, or the security of the UK or of a place in the UK.
Responder agencies Term used in this guidance to describe any organisation required to plan and prepare a response to an emergency or provide support to those who do.
Emergency responder agencies ‘Emergency responder agency’ describes all category one and two responders as defined in the Civil Contingencies Act (2004) and associated guidance.
Joint organisational learning

In the context of the national arrangements initiated through JESIP designed to capture lessons from exercises or operations that are relevant to joint working. This includes the process of effecting and embedding change in organisations and behaviours in response to those lessons.

Learning is the process of developing knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours. It is therefore essential that lessons identified about joint working, from event or exercise debriefs or other mechanisms, should be captured, assessed, shared and acted upon jointly in order to promote continuous improvement but also to confirm good practice where it is identified.
Joint working A number of organisations working together on a course, or courses of action, to achieve agreed emergency response objectives. The public expects that the emergency services will work together, particularly in the initial response emergency, in order to preserve life and reduce harm. Individual police, fire and rescue or ambulance service priorities should not override the degree of multiagency co-operation required to efficiently and effectively work together. The aim is to use the available resources to the best collective effect to achieve the jointly agreed Objectives for a successful response.  It is essential that the activities of one responder service do not impede or detract from the efficiency of another.
Major Incident

An event or situation with a range of serious consequences which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agency.


  1. “Emergency responder agency” describes all category one and two responders as defined in the Civil Contingencies Act (2004) and associated guidance.
  2. A major incident is beyond the scope of business-as-usual operations, and is likely to involve serious harm, damage, disruption or risk to human life or welfare, essential services, the environment or national security.
  3. A major incident may involve a single-agency response, although it is more likely to require a multi-agency response, which may be in the form of multi-agency support to a lead responder.
  4. The severity of the consequences associated with a major incident are likely to constrain or complicate the ability of responders to resource and manage the incident, although a major incident is unlikely to affect all responders equally.
  5. The decision to declare a major incident will always be a judgement made in a specific local and operational context, and there are no precise and universal thresholds or triggers. Where LRFs and responders have explored these criteria in the local context and ahead of time, decision makers will be better informed and more confident in making that judgement.
Means The resources and capabilities available to realise defined objectives.
National Inter-agency Liaison Officers (NILO) A trained and qualified FRS or ambulance officer who can advise and support Incident Commanders and a wide range of partners on the operational capacity and capability of their own organisation.
Objectives A list of steps, phases or tasks that have to be completed in order to achieve the overarching aim.
Personal Data Data which relates to a living individual or group who can be identified from the data and includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indications of intentions in respect of the individual (The Data Protection Act 1998).
Plan A statement or elaboration of what an individual, organisation or group will do in the event of specified circumstances.
Policy A statement of factors that bear on ways and means by which strategic objectives can be achieved.
Procedure A set of actions that is the official or accepted way of doing something, in relation to the Joint Doctrine 2nd edition, this also refers to all standing and joint operating procedures or other equivalent documents.
Rapid onset emergency An emergency which develops quickly and usually with immediate effects, thereby limiting the time available to consider response options.
Rising tide emergency An event or situation with a lead in time of days, weeks or even months e.g. health pandemic, flooding or pop concert, the final impact of which may not be apparent early on.
Sensitive personal data Personal data consisting of information as to (including but not exclusively): race/ ethnic origin, religious beliefs, physical or mental health and commission or alleged commission of any offence (The Data Protection Act 1998).
Strategy A high level statement of the desired end state and the ways and means of achieving it.
Task A defined piece of work, typically of limited time duration, that is allocated to a specific individual or group.
Ways The articulation of relevant options and constraints that apply to the attainment of defined objectives