Emergency management

Crown land managers (CLMs) must be prepared for emergencies on Crown reserves. Having a plan for emergency management can help reduce the impact of an emergency, saving lives and property. The following information for CLMs provides guidelines, responsibilities and obligations with regard to preparing for and managing emergencies.

What is an emergency?

An emergency can be defined as an event, actual or imminent, which endangers or threatens to endanger life, property or the environment, and which requires a significant and coordinated response.

Such events could be any of the following:

  • natural disaster - flood, fire, earthquake, tidal surge, storm
  • other flood or fire events
  • biological hazard
  • bomb threat
  • chemical spill
  • explosion
  • certain types of vandalism
  • building fire
  • gas leak
  • lift emergency
  • medical emergency
  • motor vehicle accident
  • power failure
  • radiation hazard
  • violent/threatening person
  • suspicious packages or mail

Avoiding emergencies

A number of emergency situations can be prevented, or their impact reduced, if the CLM is prepared. For example, fulfilling fire safety obligations reduces the chance of a grandstand being destroyed by fire.

In some cases emergencies cannot be avoided, for example natural events such as earthquakes or floods. However, even in these cases the impact can be reduced if emergency management measures are put in place before the event occurs.

This guideline also advises on possible assistance available to reserves that have been impacted.

Emergency risk management

It may be appropriate to undertake an emergency risk assessment similar to that detailed under risk management –  using an Identify, Assess, Control and Monitor process. This will allow the CLM to analyse the potential for emergency situations to occur within both the reserve and the wider area surrounding the reserve. It will also guide the CLM on appropriate measures for mitigation of the risk of an emergency, and the development of emergency procedures.

Developing emergency procedures

Developing and implementing emergency procedures before an emergency occurs can minimise harm and disruption and ensure that all CLM members, employees, contractors and volunteers are aware of their responsibilities in the event of an emergency situation arising.

Plan of management

Where a CLM has a plan of management in place, it can be another source of assistance in dealing with or avoiding emergencies. Plans of management should identify relevant stakeholders, issues affecting the CLM, its responses to those issues, and the management of emergency situations.

CLM duties

The primary responsibilities of a CLM in an emergency situation relate to the protection of:

  • CLM members, employees, contractors, volunteers and visitors
  • reserve property
  • other landholdings and property bordering the reserve.

An emergency management checklist (as per below table) details the key duties in relation to emergencies on the reserve. The objective of such a checklist is to ensure the CLM is prepared in times of emergency. This includes forming and implementing an emergency response plan, making everyone aware of their roles and responsibilities, maintaining up-to-date contact lists, and communicating potential dangers to users of reserve property.

Any emergency plan should be updated regularly (e.g. annually), to ensure that it is accurate (e.g. emergency contacts are up to date), reliable (e.g. land and buildings are accurately described) and practical (e.g. clearly defines roles and responsibilities during an emergency).

Signage detailing emergency procedures may be appropriate at the entrance to some reserves. Signs should include the relevant information from the emergency management plan and should be practicable and suitable for the reserve type.

Emergency management checklist

Before an emergency
  • develop an emergency management plan or checklist.
  • agree on the responsibilities of CLM members, employees, contractors and volunteers.
  • maintain emergency equipment so it is fit for use.
  • store important documents off-site, or in a fire/waterproof container.
  • locate where and how to turn off electricity, gas and water.
  • maintain contact lists of key local resources – such as CLM members, the Rural Fire Service, local police, local council, etc.
  • train all CLM members and employees in emergency procedures.
  • provide all contractors and volunteers with information on the CLM’s emergency management procedures.
During an emergency
  • contact emergency services through 000.
  • contact the chairperson of the CLM - The chairperson/general manager has ultimate responsibility for managing the situation and will need to be prepared to deal with emergency services personnel, the general community, and the media.
  • liaise with other relevant response agencies – such as the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service
  • contact other CLM members, employees, contractors and volunteers.
  • confirm the location of any visitors on reserve.
  • secure the location of the emergency.
  • implement the emergency management plan or checklist.
  • implement evacuation procedures – where required.
After an emergency
  • contact the department for assistance with disaster recovery, including insurance arrangements. The department also provides assistance in dealing with media enquiries.
  • conduct a debrief – what did we learn/do right/do wrong? etc.
  • implement feedback from the debrief.

In addition to the emergency management checklist, guidance on how to develop a detailed emergency plan is available from the Australian Government’s website.

Emergency services use of Crown reserves

Crown reserves, such as showgrounds, may need to be used by emergency service agencies to undertake operational activities. This could include using Crown reserves as staging and evacuation areas, as well as locations for disaster recovery efforts. CLMs may be directed by the department or other government agencies to provide access to reserves they manage during these events.

Costs incurred in setting up an evacuation centre or assembly area can be claimed by a CLM if:

  • the event has been declared a natural disaster by the NSW Government; and
  • a NSW Government agency has requested that an organisation sets up an evacuation centre/assembly area on the reserve.

Eligible expenditure can be claimed as outlined in the NSW Disaster Assistance Guidelines, that includes:

  • land, air or water transport organised by response or recovery agencies
  • provision of essential goods or services to stranded individuals including essential medical personnel and technicians, equipment (e.g. generators and pumps) and other goods (e.g. food, water, groceries, shelter, fuel)
  • establishing, operating and decommissioning assembly areas and/or evacuation centres including lighting, food, water, toilets, temporary shelter, bedding, office and communication equipment.

If a CLM voluntarily opens an evacuation centre/assembly area without any direction from the lead agency, reimbursement of costs may not be covered.

Disaster assistance and funding

The department provides support to CLMs to assist with disaster recovery. In the first instance, Contact us.

The department will assist eligible CLMs with insurance claims from the NSW Government’s Treasury Managed Fund. Find out more about insurance coverage and the claim process in the insurance section.

Other funding options from the department may be available to assist with recovery efforts in the event that insurance will not cover repair costs. Other types of non-financial support may also be available to CLMs depending on their specific needs or circumstances of the disaster.

General information on disaster assistance for the broader community is available on the NSW Government’s Office of Emergency Management website.

Lessons learned – the debrief

Following an emergency it can be valuable to conduct a debrief of the situation. This will help to identify what was done well and what could have been done better. Ideally this should take place as soon as possible after the emergency has occurred. The most appropriate person to organise the debrief is the person responsible for formulating and implementing the emergency management plan or the CLM chairperson.

The following principles can be used to guide the debrief and review process:

  • include internal and external stakeholders – these could be CLM members, volunteers, employees, other members of the community who were involved, local council staff, departmental officers, etc.
  • understand the context – what happened, date and time, general background to the emergency
  • agree on the objective – recording actions taken, recognising positive actions, learning from the event
  • describe the situation – in some detail, for example:
    • when was it first noticed there was a problem?
    • who noticed it?
    • who did they alert and when?
    • who was involved in the situation?
    • what was the impact – injuries, damage to/loss of property, cost, etc?
    • how will recovery of any losses take place? Who is responsible?
    • what would be done differently next time?
    • what was done well?
    • what can be done to prevent something similar in the future?
    • what could be done to reduce the impact of something similar?
    • what other emergency situations could arise that we should prepare for?
  • Document the results – gather the information and feed it back to the people involved in the process. This documentation should also be used to update the future process for managing such situations.

Regulatory requirements

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