The Five Principles


Co-locate with other responders as soon as practicably possible at a single, safe and easily identified location.

What should happen

The co-location of responders should occur as soon as reasonably practicable.

With the use of technology, co-location can be virtual; this may be particularly beneficial for incidents that involve a regional or national response or are protracted.

Control rooms operate from separate fixed locations and cannot physically co-locate. They can, however, by using the information they have available, help in co-locating responders and commanders by jointly agreeing the initial multi-agency rendezvous point.

Co-location supports responders to jointly agree objectives and a co-ordinated plan to effectively resolve an incident.

The benefits of co-location apply equally at all levels of response.

What can go wrong?

Responders arriving at the scene can take too long to make contact with other responders or don’t make contact at all, leading to a lack of joint decision-making and poor coordination of the response.

If there is any delay in responders co-locating, interoperable communications should be used to begin establishing shared situational awareness.

The operational and tactical commanders of each responder organisation should be easily identifiable at an incident. This is usually achieved by wearing role specific tabards. There are exceptions, such as public order and public safety events, where coloured epaulettes and helmet markings are used. Refer to JESIP: Commander identification tabards for more information.

Although not all responders will have role specific tabards, they should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and have a form of identification as a minimum.

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Communicate using language which is clear and free from technical jargon and abbreviations.

What should happen

Control rooms should use the ‘talk not tell’ process which involves personnel passing information and asking other organisations what their response to the incident will be.

Sharing information in a way that can be understood by the intended recipient, this aids the development of shared situational awareness, which underpins the best possible outcomes of an incident.

Ensuring the information shared is free from abbreviations and other potential sources of confusion.

Responders should avoid ambiguity by providing factual information rather than subjective statements such as likely, possible, or probable.

What can go wrong?

Responders may not share information for fear of getting into trouble. People should start from a position of considering the risks and harm if they do not share information.

Without responders being able to liaise with their peers and share what they know about the incident, including what risks have been identified, they cannot coordinate resources and formulate an appropriate response plan.

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

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

What should happen

Control rooms should ensure that initial actions required to manage the incident are carried out, including engaging in multi-agency communications.

Responders should use the joint decision model to help develop a working strategy.

By meeting/talking regularly responders can ensure they have the most up-to-date information to formulate a joint response plan, this should be reviewed regularly for its effectiveness.

The most appropriate resources can then be deployed to ensure the most effective multi-agency response.

What can go wrong?

If commanders do not share information and co-ordinate their efforts, there is an increased potential for misunderstandings about the response and resources required. The response is likely to be disjointed. There is the potential for a duplication of effort and for the activities of one agency to inadvertently impede the activities of another. There may be delays in responding to casualties or to bringing the emergency under control.

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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 appropriate control measures.

What should happen

Each organisation should carry out their own risk assessments, then share the results so that they can plan control measures and contingencies together more effectively. Individual dynamic risk assessment findings may be used to develop the analytical risk assessment for the incident.

This process applies if military assets are taking tactical direction from civil authorities, while remaining under military command. However, this does not absolve military commanders from their own assessment of the risks.

All information and joint decisions should be recorded in an appropriate log. The joint decision log may be used for this purpose.

What can go wrong?

Responders may not be aware of the different risks and hazards facing each agency at the emergency, which could lead to responders inadvertently been placed at risk whilst carrying out their duties.

Services individually assess the risks but do not share this information and they do not consider the impact of this on their peers. This may lead to responders 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 responders being harmed.

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Shared Situational Awareness

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

What should happen

Communications between control rooms should take place in the initial stages and throughout the incident.

Control rooms should talk to commanders before they arrive on-scene and throughout the incident to establish shared situational awareness. The process should include identifying risks and hazards to all responders and cover the following key points:

  • is it clear who the lead organisation is at this point? if so, who is it?
  • what information and intelligence does each organisation hold at this point?
  • what hazards and risks are known by each organisation at this point?
  • what assets have been, or are being, deployed at this point and why?
  • how will the required agencies continue communicating with each other?
  • at what point will multi-agency interoperable voice communications be required, and how will it be achieved?
Responders will work together to formulate the most effective response plan possible using all the information known about the unfolding emergency.

What can go wrong?

Without sharing all that is known about an incident across all agencies an un-coordinated approach to response is likely. There is the potential for inappropriate and duplicate resources and capabilities to be deployed which could result in delays to rescuing and treating casualties and inadvertently putting staff at risk.

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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?