Operationalisation of the National Incident Command System |18 April 2023
Emergency responders and partners share experiences
Representatives from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), including the civil society, are taking part in a two-day workshop on emergency response with regard to the operationalisation of the National Incident Command System (NICS) set up in accordance with the National Integrated Emergency Management Plan (NIEMP).
The NICS is a management tool designed for inter-agency coordination, consisting of procedures for command, control, response and the use of resources for both emergent and non-emergent incidents. It sets out the structures to guide the emergency response and recovery activities for all responders. During a fast-moving emergency, a rigid ‘top down’ response structure increases potential for misunderstanding and slows down decision-making. Through the NICS, emergency response will be guided to respective emergency responders concerned with the situation to prevent waste of resources and manpower.
The workshop, being held at the Savoy Seychelles Resort at Beau Vallon, has been organised by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs (MLGCA) in collaboration with the Disaster Risk Management Division (DRMD). It was opened yesterday by the Minister for Internal Affairs, Errol Fonseca.
With the increase in the number of incidents and given that all responding MDAs have their own internal emergency management structures, the workshop is to ensure that they (stakeholders and emergency responders) are kept abreast of their roles, responsibilities and operating procedures and also to recognise and understand the importance of effective command, control, response coordination, collaboration and communication including the effective harness of resources.
It also presented the participants with the excellent opportunity to engage in discussions, share experiences, and identify areas for improvement in their emergency management system in the implementation of the NICS.
In his address, Minister Fonseca said that since launching the operationalisation of the NIEMP in August 2022, his ministry, through the DRMD, has been consistent in the development of plans and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in collaboration with MDAs across government, to meet government’s expectation to lower disaster risk through a collaborative approach.
He said the country continues to strengthen its emergency preparedness in meeting its international obligation under the Sendai Framework’s priority area of “Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to improve its recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction processes.
“In this light, I wish to reiterate the need for all MDAs to integrate disaster risk reduction, and business continuity planning as crucial activities in their planning processes as their contribution towards more disaster resilient communities; after all, disaster risk reduction is everyone’s responsibility,” the minister said.
Minister Fonseca noted that the workshop is crucial as it gets communities and responders together towards not only the implementation of the incident command system, but will also address day to day administrative challenges faced by districts, and emergency responders in providing services aimed at guaranteeing the safety of citizens and infrastructure.
“I commend this collaborative approach and highly recommend the same to other MDAs when addressing disaster risk reduction activities in their workplaces. Finally, I wish to put on record my appreciation for all the men and women who devote their lives to ensure that our citizens are kept safe at all times and it is my privilege to launch this important workshop,” Minister Fonseca said.
For his part the principal secretary for Local Government and Community Affairs, Kevin Perine, encouraged everyone to participate actively and to contribute to the development of a more effective and efficient National Incident Command System.
“Let us work together to build a stronger, more resilient Seychelles that is better prepared to deal with emergencies and disasters,” he said.
In his opening remarks, director general of DRMD, Robert Ernesta, said that they have trained focal persons of various emergency contingency plans to ensure that the NICS operations run smoothly.
He stated apart from operationalisation of NICS, DRMD has also activated the regional emergency operation centre on Praslin and the emergency operation centre on La Digue.
He noted that subsequently, they are working and in the final stages of completing the port and airport emergency contingency plans.
He said that the job is getting everybody onboard and planning together in case of a disaster.
Speaking to the press later, the chief risk management officer, Daniel Cetoupe, said that the key of the implementation of the NICS is to have the district authorities take control of all incidents at community level which, depending on the gravity, will thereafter be taken over by the command centre for dissemination of the emergency response operations to relevant emergency responders by DRMD.
He noted that people at district level should be well versed with the telephone number of their respected DAs and district offices for community emergency calls at district level.
Plaisance district administrator, Marie Ange Florentine, said that given the support from MDAs and partners, the districts have enough baggage to handle incidents at community level.
She noted that people in the district are well aware of what to do in the event of a disaster in the community but there is still a need to continue educating them on the procedures and responsibilities. Yesterday’s session was mark by various presentations by the stakeholders and emergency responders on their practices, challenges and going forward whereas today’s session will be devoted to desktop exercises.
Text & photos by Patrick Joubert