Question: Who's in charge during a major incident or disaster?
Successful emergency service management is based on three major points:
Success is not possible without fine tuning all three. This invariably means change to achieve success. Change is not popular with some people, but no improvements can be made without change. By the same token, some changes can be damaging. Sometimes change for the good comes from the top down or from within your own unit. Organizational politics or the political facts of life, as they are often called, may preclude a top down change for the good. But that is no reason you can't effect improvements within your specific sphere of activity.
- PEOPLE. Who is responsible for emergency management? Thus is something you as an individual have no control. It is important to understand the very big differences from one jurisdiction to another.What is the title of the emergency management principal? This frequently gives a clue to the scope and authority of that individual. Do your laws or codes specifically describe the scope and authority of the position and its relationship in what might be called the chain of command?
At one end of the emergency management spectrum is a title of coordinator. This may be a planning and coordination position with no command authority, with all operational decisions and actions being the responsibility of others outside of the emergency management office. If so, then in a sense, the word "management" is a misnomer. The position is a planner and not responsible for the execution of response and recovery.
At the other end of the emergency management spectrum is the position title of director, manager, administrator, officer, or chief. This person, by code or convention, does or can take charge during an incident that may require the use of three or more government departments. This position is usually held responsible for all of the principal elements: People, Procedures, and Preparedness.