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Is an incident controller just an incident controller?


McNeil, R and Curnin, S and Brooks, B and Owen, C, Is an incident controller just an incident controller?, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC Conference Proceedings, 5 - 8 September, Perth, pp. 1-6. (2018) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]

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One of the emerging debates in the Emergency Management community relates to the value that hazard-specific Subject Matter Expertise adds to the role of an Incident Controller. Multi-agency responses, increased inter-operability, the greater frequency of climate-induced emergencies and inter-jurisdictional deployments both nationally and internationally, all point towards this issue becoming more, rather than less of a challenge.

Management systems such as Australasian Inter-service Incident Management System implement generic management structures and fundamental principles such as span of control, options analysis and risk management. In theory, a skilled Incident Controller should be able to adapt those skills to respond to ANY hazard. Or should they?

Our paper explores this issue through the analysis of a deployment of an Australian Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team to Fukushima, Japan, following the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. We identify several decisions made by the USAR commander. Subsequent to this, we consider the role that hazard specific Subject Matter Expertise played in those decisions. We assess the possibility that hazard-specific Subject Matter Expertise could be resident in the team, rather than an attribute of the Incident Controller. We conclude that hazard-specific Subject Matter Expertise is important for Incident Controllers in these particular events.

Finally, we explore the implications for organisational capability. We examine the challenges of training our future leaders and our ability to provide credible, challenging training scenarios, and therefore address the requirement for response agencies to train Ďat the edge of chaosí as suggested by the City of Folsomís Police Chief Cynthia Renaud (California, USA).

Item Details

Item Type:Non Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:emergency management
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Policy and administration
Research Field:Public administration
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Curnin, S (Associate Professor Steven Curnin)
UTAS Author:Brooks, B (Associate Professor Benjamin Brooks)
UTAS Author:Owen, C (Dr Christine Owen)
ID Code:132173
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2019-04-26
Last Modified:2019-04-29
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