Assessment of emergency management performance and capability
Hazardous industries in the UK and Europe are under pressure to increase the transparency and accountability of the ways in which they manage their hazards and the risks they pose to the population and environment. The literature has indicated that the field would benefit from a risk-based, continuous improvement approach to emergency management in hazardous industry. The aim of this research was to construct a framework to enable assessment of the emergency management performance and capability within UK hazardous industry operators. Continuous improvement models from other fields were examined, and an established model called the Capability Maturity Model was selected to form the basis of the framework. A three-stage data collection methodology was designed to gain an overview of an organisation's emergency management capability. This methodology involved reviewing a sample of emergency plans related to UK hazardous industrial sites and observing eight emergency exercises at major hazard industrial sites. The third stage was to record the learning capability of the organisation by observing their feedback processes and interviewing members of staff were necessary. Analysis of the resulting data enabled the construction of a set of eight key processes that define an emergency management system. Using the five- level structure of the Capability Maturity Model along with the principals of continuous improvement, an emergency management assessment framework was constructed. The assessment framework was successfully tested in a large Local Authority, using its emergency plan, a major exercise and a follow-up interview to collect the relevant information. The assessment provided clear details of current capability and maturity of the emergency management system, giving structured guidance on weaknesses in specific process areas and more generally in particular stages of the emergency management system. This ultimately enabled the Local Authority to focus its improvement efforts, increasing their efficiency in learning and effectiveness in preparedness and response.