5. Incident Response System (IRS)

To respond the emergency management NDMA has developed guidelines on Incident Response System (IRS) and guidelines on chemical (industrial) disaster management. MOEF, has notified the CA (EPPR) Rules 1996. Module will deal in brief one by one:

5.1 NDMA initiatives

The Incident Response System (IRS), developed by NDMA in 2010, is an effective mechanism for reducing the scope for ad-hoc measures in response. It incorporates all the tasks that may be performed during Disaster Management irrespective of their level of complexity. Organisation functions through Incident Response Teams (IRTs) in the field, in line with their administrative structure and DM Act 2005. Responsible oOfficers(ROs) have been designated at the State and District level as overall in charge of the incident response management. The RO may however delegate responsibilities to the Incident Commander (IC), who in turn will manage the incident through IRTs. The IRTs will be pre-designated at all levels; State, District, Sub-Division and Tehsil/Block. On receipt of early warning, the RO will activate them. In case a disaster occurs without any warning, the local IRT will respond and contact RO for further support, if required. A Nodal Officer (NO) has to be designated for proper coordination between the District, State and National level in activating effective response.

Apart from the RO and Nodal Officer (NO), the IRS has two main components;

  • Command Staff and
  • General Staff. The structure is shown in Fig-3.

Figure 4

5.1.1 Command Staff:

The Command Staff consists of Incident Commander (IC), Information & Media Officer (IMO), Safety Officer (SO) and Liaison Officer (LO). They report directly to the IC and may have assistants. The Command Staff may or may not have supporting organisations under them. The main function of the Command Staff is to assist the IC in the discharge of his/her functions and it has been discussed in brief as:

 

a. The Incident Commander (IC) will

  • obtain information on situation status like number of people and the area affected etc.; availability and procurement of resources; requirement of facilities, Staging Area, Incident Base, Camp, Relief Camp, etc.; availability and requirement of Communication system; future weather behavior from IMD; and any other information required for response from all available sources and analyse the situation.
  • establish immediate priorities, including search and rescue and relief distribution strategies;
  • assess requirements for maintenance of law and order, traffic etc.; if any at the incident site, and make arrangements with help of the local police;
  • brief higher authorities about the situation;
  • ensure that adequate safety measures for responders and affected communities are in place;
  • ensure proper coordination between all sections of the IRTs.

b. Information and Media Officer (IMO)

The news media are important partners in an emergency. The media and individual journalists can provide vital information; they may have been in areas not visited by anyone from government side and have talked with people of the affected area. IMO should encourage them to keep informed of what they see. Respond when possible. At all times foster goodwill and cooperation with the news media. Give them constant updates, informal interviews etc. They will respond with informed reporting. Encourage them to share your vision for long-term effective assistance. When dealing with media the following points need to be remembered:

Preparing for an interview

  • Anticipate the questions they will ask and think of the message you want to convey.
  • Work out exactly what you are going to say. Stick to it.
  • Never assume the media understands the terminology you are employing. Remember that their audience is the average man in the street. The more understandable you are, the more time they will give you. In case of fire, for example in place of saying that the zone of 37.5 kW/m2 of heat radiation is Y meters will carry no message to public, one should say that up to Y meters the damage will
  • be maximum and mortality will be highest due third degree of burn. Simplify and summarise the basic points, repeat them with emphasis during the interview.
  • Take command of the interview. If you have something important to say, say it. Do not be side-tracked into answering other questions which you feel are not relevant. Prepare handouts, emphasizing the main points of your statements.

Points to remember
Stick to facts, and put them in context
There is no such thing as 'off-the-record'
Be careful what you say in the presence of journalists, even after a formal interview is finished and at social gatherings.
Do not mention weaknesses.

 

Hints on issuing a press release

  • Your key point should be in the first paragraph.
  • The text needs to be brief (maximum one A4 page).
  • The title and the opening line are the most important part: they need to grab attention and encourage people to read on.
  • Avoid referencing academic work or text, refer to people or researchers.
  • Use a language that is appropriate for the audience.
  • If you are working with a particular newspaper or radio/television station, you may need to do some research about their editorial style.
  • Translate materials into local languages. Have regular resource persons/ journalists available to do this.

c. Roles and Responsibilities of Liaison Officer (LO)

The LO is the focal point of contact for various line departments, SDRF, NDRF, representatives of NGOs, etc. participating in the response. The LO is the point of contact to assist the first responders, cooperating agencies and line departments. LO may be designated depending on the number of agencies involved and the spread of affected area.

d. Roles and Responsibilities of Safety Officer (SO)

The SO's function is to develop and recommend measures for ensuring safety of personnel, and to assess and/or anticipate hazardous and unsafe situations. The SO is authorised to stop or prevent unsafe acts. SO may also give general advice on safety of affected communities. He/She should ensure the lacunae in compliance of existing safety regulations at the incident site.

5.1.2 General Staff:

The General Staff has three components which are as follows:

  • a. Operations Section (OS): The OS is responsible for directing the required tactical actions to meet incident objectives. Management of disaster may not immediately require activation of Branch, Division and Group. Expansion of the OS depends on the enormity of the situation and number of different types and kinds of functional Groups required in the response management. This section is responsible for operational movement of food, water, vehicles and other materials and equipments at those places where there is need. The Staging Area (SA) will be established at a suitable area near the affected site for immediate, effective and quick deployment of resources.
  • Planning Section (PS): The PS is responsible for collection, evaluation and display of incident information, maintaining and tracking resources, preparing the Incident Action Plan (IAP) and other necessary incident related documentation. They will assess the requirement of additional resources, propose from where it can be mobilised and keep IC informed. This section also prepares the demobilisation plan.
  •  
  • Logistics Section (LS): The LS is responsible for providing facilities, services, materials, equipments and other resources in support of the incident response. The Section Chief participates in development and implementation of the IAP, activates and supervises Branches and Units of his/her section. In order to ensure prompt and smooth procurement and supply of resources as per financial rules, the Finance Branch has been included in the LS.

The Fig-4 shows the framework of General Staff.

 

 
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