The Five Principles

Co-locate

Co-locate with commanders as soon as practicably possible at a single, safe and easily identified location near to the scene.

What can go wrong...

Commanders arriving at the scene can take too long to make contact with commanders from the others services, or don’t make contact at all.

This leads to poor information sharing, lack of communication and no joint understanding of the unfolding emergency.

What should happen

Responders should identify and meet with who is in charge from each of the other services. Identification of lead officers is made easier by the use of incident commander tabards or equivalent uniform marking. Radio interoperability talk groups should be established and used to aid communication, whether or not commanders physically co-locate.

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Communicate

Communicate clearly using plain English

What can go wrong...

Without commanders being able to liaise with their peers and share what they know about the incident - what risks or hazards they may have identified, they cannot coordinate resources and formulate an appropriate response plan.

Misunderstood concepts and terminology are frequent stumbling blocks, use of service specific jargon, acronyms and abbreviations can cause confusion and delay.

What should happen

Commanders need to ensure what they are sharing is understood by all. They should use commonly agreed language, terminology and map symbols See the Cabinet Office Lexicon of Civil Protection Terminology). They should avoid ambiguity by providing factual information rather than subjective statements such as “likely, possible, or probable”.

Using the common model for passing incident information between services and their control rooms (METHANE), commanders can ensure all services have the same information about the incident.

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Co-ordinate

Co-ordinate by agreeing the lead service. Identify priorities, resources and capabilities for an effective response, including the timing of further meetings

What can go wrong...

If commanders do not share information and coordinate their efforts, there is a high potential for misunderstanding about the response and resources required. The response is likely to be disjointed and has the potential for duplication of effort and even for one service to inadvertently impede the activities of another. There may be delays in responding to casualties or bringing the emergency under control.

What should happen

By meeting / talking both initially and at regular intervals, commanders can ensure they have the most update to date information to formulate a response plan and to regularly review it for effectiveness. The most appropriate resources can be deployed to ensure the most effective multi-agency response. Commander should use the Joint Decision Model to help plan an effective response plan.

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Jointly understand risk

Jointly understand risk by sharing information about the likelihood and potential impact of threats and hazards to agree potential control measures

What can go wrong...

Commanders may not be aware of the different risks and hazards facing each organisation at the emergency. The different emergency services will have unique insights into the risks their staff are likely to face when responding to the emergency.

Services individually assess risks but do not share this information with peers and they do not consider the risks facing their peers. This may lead to staff from one service being prevented from carrying out their duties if another service perceives the risk to be too great. This disjointed approach could lead to a delay in the response, casualties not being treated appropriately or staff being harmed.

What should happen

Results from either individual or joint Dynamic Risk Assessments are shared with all commanders so that all risks, threats or hazards can be fully considered and understood. With a common understanding, priorities can be agreed and control measures put in place as part of a jointly agreed working strategy leading to an integrated multi-agency operational response plan.

All information and decisions made should be recorded in a Decision log.

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Shared Situational Awareness

Shared Situational Awareness established by using METHANE and the Joint Decision Model

What can go wrong...

Without sharing all that is known about an incident across all agencies and an un-coordinated approach to response, there is the potential for inappropriate and duplicate resources and capabilities to be deployed resulting in the ineffective rescue and treatment of casualties and inadvertently exposing staff to risks.

What should happen

Commanders will have worked together to formulate the most effective response plan possible using all information known about the unfolding emergency including threats and hazards, relevant powers, policies, capabilities and procedures as well as the resources available from all agencies.

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If the principles are followed then the result should be a jointly agreed working strategy where all parties understand what is going to happen when and by who, this strategy should include:

  • What are the aims and objectives to be achieved?
  • Who by – police, fire, ambulance and partner organisations?
  • When – timescales, deadlines and milestones
  • Where – what locations?
  • Why – what is the rationale? Is this consistent with the overall strategic aims and objectives?
  • How are these tasks going to be achieved?