Page 3146 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 24 August 2005
knowledge of all hazards, shared responsibilities and the provision of reliable and timely information.
The approach provides the required flexibility and adaptability when dealing with major incidents with the assistance of the SES and the fire brigade and ensures that effective incident action plans can be tailored to the situation. It maximises the advantages of the open layout of the ACT and avoids the limitations of published evacuation plans.
The recognition of an all-hazards approach to emergency management that addressed both natural and non-natural threats has widened the evacuation requirement to include the consequences of terrorist attacks. The ACT evacuation strategy is based on the all-hazards requirement. This work has been undertaken by the ESA in collaboration with ACT Policing and reported to the emergency management committee.
The basis of the evacuation strategy is, of course, the Emergencies Act 2004, which includes the declaration of a state of alert or a state of emergency. This enables a proactive approach to be taken. A number of components make up the evacuation strategy. One is the ACT community safety evacuation policy. This policy is intended to educate the community on its roles and responsibilities in the preparation, evacuation and recovery phases. A partnership between the community and the emergency services is essential for the conduct of evacuations in all circumstances.
Another is the ACT all-hazards warning system. This system is intended to provide clear information to the community on the likelihood that an incident will occur that will require evacuation. It provides direction on the actions required by ACT Policing, the ESA and other agencies, and a public information message. The message is to be preceded by the standard emergency warning signal alert.
The ACT Handy Map, the third component of the evacuation strategy, is intended to provide a simple means to communicate the location of an incident and the likely area in which evacuation is required in relation to the warning system. This map is contained within the Yellow Pages. The alphanumerical grid covers the ACT and surrounding region. The community is asked to identify the grid squares in which they live and work and those in which special needs members of their family are located.
The fourth aspect of the strategy is the media MOU. The intent of the media MOU, the only MOU of its kind in Australia, is to provide a reliable flow of information to the community through the media. This overcomes reliance on mobile/fixed telephone and internet services that may not be operating during a major emergency. Members would recall that in London all mobile telephone usage ceased immediately the incident occurred. The ACT is the first jurisdiction to have an approved MOU with all media organisations—TV, radio and print—that establishes a partnership in the dissemination of information.
The fifth aspect is assistance in preparing plans. A major lesson learned from the London bombings is the need for direct assistance to the owners/managers of higher density facilities in the preparation of effective building/area evacuation plans. This is a new development for the strategy and seeks to raise the overall level of preparedness, ensure interoperability in arrangements between adjoining areas, and support evaluation of