Train, Test & Learn

5.2 The IMRF MRO Workshop Guide

Written by David Jardine-Smith. Posted in Train, Test & Learn

Download PDF Version

Download PDF Version

Contents

Contents

This paper discusses: 

o the IMRF’s MRO workshop package, including administration, facilitation and funding
o the place the workshops can have in MRO planning
o the standard workshop formats

1 Overview

1 Overview

1.1 For a general introduction to the IMRF’s mass rescue operations (MRO) guidance, please see MRO guidance paper 1.1 ‘Complex incident planning – the challenge: acknowledging the problem, and mass rescue incident types’.

1.2 The guidance in this section relates to training in MRO plans, exercising them, and learning lessons from incident and exercise experience. Guidance papers 5.1, 5.3, 5.4 & 5.5 refer to these aspects in general. This paper introduces the IMRF’s MRO workshops, which can form an early part of the planning and training processes and which also form part of the process of disseminating MRO lessons learned.

2 IMRF Mass Rescue Operations (MRO) Workshops

2 IMRF Mass Rescue Operations (MRO) Workshops

2.1 As discussed in guidance paper 4.9, good communications between responders are vital before an MRO is required as well as during the operation itself (and afterwards). It is only through such good, and comprehensive, communications that an effective MRO response can be planned and carried out.

2.2 Detailed MRO planning is the responsibility of the relevant SAR Coordinator (see guidance papers 4.2 & 2.1), working with partner organisations identified as having a role to play in MRO response. The aims of this process may be summarised as:

o integrating the preparation and planning efforts of all stakeholders
o enhancing incident coordination and establishing supportive systems
o improving cohesion between all stakeholders to optimise response capability.

2.3 The IMRF MRO workshop package is intended to assist, not replace, this local process. Detailed planning can only be done locally, at the national or regional level. The IMRF MRO workshop is designed to help this process by:

o providing an opportunity to focus on MRO issues
o bringing stakeholders together in a ‘safe’ and interactive environment, where open discussion is encouraged
o raising awareness of the challenges commonly experienced in MROs
o sharing experience from around the world of what are rare but extremely challenging events
o identifying misunderstandings or gaps in response planning for further action later by the local stakeholders.

2.4 The IMRF MRO workshop can be tailored to local requirements, and is offered in two basic forms, the ‘stakeholder’ workshop and a more general version.

2.5 The ‘stakeholder’ workshop is designed for representatives of organisations who are likely to work together in the event of an MRO in their country or region. It can be used at an early stage of an MRO or major incident planning process, to help focus stakeholders’ attention on the challenges and local capabilities; and/or it can be used to help review existing MRO or major incident planning, to test that it is fit for purpose.

2.6 The IMRF‘s ‘general’ MRO workshop is designed to improve attendees’ understanding of MRO challenges and potential solutions, without focussing in detail on local or regional circumstances. It enables attendees to discuss MRO issues in general but in depth. Attendees do not have to come from the same geographical area, as is preferred in a ‘stakeholder’ workshop.

2.7 The workshops are usually one-day events - either a single working day or taking place overnight, occupying an afternoon and the following morning. The latter structure allows for travel time before and after the event and may prove more cost-effective for some participants. It also allows for additional, informal discussion during the middle evening.

3 Planning Responsibility

3 Planning Responsibility

3.1 The IMRF’s stakeholder workshop does not remove planning responsibility from the local stakeholders. It is only a tool that may be used as part of the planning process. It raises issues and challenges that other responders have identified elsewhere – but it cannot cover all the difficulties that may arise locally, or during a particular MRO. Similarly, it shares other responders’ experiences and proposes solutions that have been found helpful elsewhere – but it does not cover all the potential solutions and it cannot identify those of particular relevance locally.

3.2 Local stakeholders should use the workshop as a planning tool to help identify their own challenges and their own solutions.

4 The 'Stakeholder' Workshop

4 The ‘Stakeholder’ Workshop

4.1 The IMRF stakeholder MRO workshop is tailored to suit local conditions and requirements. The IMRF’s workshop planners, administrators and facilitators work with local contact organisations to identify:

o local concerns
o the local stakeholders who should be invited to participate, and
o the core scenario for the exercise that forms a major part of the workshop.

4.2 The standard format is as follows:

o introduction, by the workshop hosts and the IMRF facilitator
o brief presentations by each of the stakeholder organisations present
o a ‘tabletop’ exercise, designed to promote discussion of each of the challenges that commonly arise in MROs
o conclusions.

5 The 'General' Workshop

5 The ‘General’ Workshop

5.1 The general version of the IMRF’s MRO workshop can also be tailored by arrangement. Its standard format is:

o introduction, by the workshop hosts and the IMRF facilitator
o presentations on MRO issues by subject-matter experts
o a ‘tabletop’ exercise, designed to promote discussion of each of the challenges that commonly arise in MROs
o conclusions.

6 The Workshop Introduction

6 The Workshop Introduction

6.1 As well as general welcomes etc, the purpose of the brief introductory session is to explain the aims of the workshop and how it will proceed. The aims are:

o to encourage and facilitate communications between participants
o to enable discussion of the challenges MROs present, and possible solutions to them.

Stakeholder workshops have the additional aim of identifying items for subsequent action by the local SAR Coordinator and stakeholder organisations.

6.2 The workshop facilitator will explain that recognising (at all levels) that an MRO may occur is the first step to successful response. The second step is planning. In this context we are planning to minimise the effects of accidents – that is, planning effective & efficient responses to an emergency. A mass rescue response will be a multi-agency one, so the planning must be multi-agency too.

7 Presentations

7 Presentations

7.1 In stakeholder workshops the primary purpose of asking each organisation present to speak about their own maritime MRO responsibilities and capabilities is to ensure that all present are up-to-date on their colleagues’ position in these respects. It is not unusual to find that there are gaps in organisational understanding of partners’ MRO roles and responses, or of what they can and cannot do – especially if the organisations concerned only work closely together infrequently; in an MRO, for example.

7.2 The stakeholder presentations also allow the IMRF workshop facilitator to gain a better overall understanding of local arrangements, which s/he can then refer to during the tabletop exercise, and to note points of misunderstanding or uncertainty, or apparent gaps in the local response arrangements.

7.3 Noting these shortcomings is particularly important. They should be raised by the facilitator at the appropriate stages of the exercise, to enable discussion, clarification, or identification of items for further action by the local SAR Coordinator and/or individual stakeholder organisations. This is one of the primary aims of the workshop.

7.4 In the general version of the workshop, the presentations are on particular MRO subjects, for example:

mass rescue / complex incident planning
mass rescue resources, including funding
communications – priorities, systems & structures
the SAR Mission Coordinator, On Scene Coordinator and Aircraft Coordinator roles
use of surface and air units
coordination with shoreside authorities
rescue, including support during transfer to a place of safety
accounting for people, including searches

7.5 Particular subjects for discussion can be agreed with the workshop hosts beforehand. The presentations are given by subject-matter experts.

8 The Tabletop Exercise

8 The Tabletop Exercise

8.1 The tabletop exercise is designed to enable discussion of the main challenges likely to be encountered in an MRO.

For discussion of exercise types in general see guidance paper 5.3.

It is not an ‘IMRF guide on how to conduct MROs’! Nor is it a test or critique. It is simply intended to enable the workshop participants to examine the issues and to discuss – openly and in a ‘safe’ environment – common difficulties and solutions based on others' experience.

8.2 The exercise itself is a ‘simple’ one, in the sense that it does not have a very detailed scenario or timescale. A scenario of local relevance is presented, but with only sufficient detail to generate the necessary discussion. The scenario will be a realistic one that the workshop participants can identify with – but it should be explained that the aim of the workshop is not to solve the particular problems related to this scenario. The scenario is only there to prompt debate of the MRO issues in general.

8.3 If desired, the exercise can incorporate questions of particular local or regional relevance. This will be agreed by the workshop hosts and the IMRF workshop planner at the planning stage, and the IMRF facilitator will be briefed accordingly.

8.4 The discussions work best if the workshop participants can be seated around tables in groups of 6-8. Attending organisations should be mixed among these groups, to enable inter-disciplinary discussion at the table group level as well as overall.

8.5 The exercise is run on a ‘stop-the-clock’ basis. A few questions are asked, based on the initial scenario. The participants are invited to discuss these questions in their table groups. One group is then asked to give their answers. The other groups can comment if they wish once they have heard what the first group has to say. Different groups are asked to lead at each stage of the exercise.

8.6 Once the first set of questions have been dealt with, the scenario is moved on. There are six discussion sessions in total in the standard format of the exercise, each with several questions to be considered. The overall aim is to enable at least some discussion of each of the main MRO themes identified by the IMRF. Five sets of questions are discussed using the table group format. The last set is intended to promote a final, general discussion by the whole workshop, and to prompt any conclusions the participants wish to draw.

8.7 Taken together, the discussion sessions focus on:

o major incident planning & training: what is expected?
o integrating stakeholders’ preparation and planning efforts
o enhancing incident coordination and establishing supportive systems
o improving stakeholder cohesion to optimise response capability
o practical aspects of mass rescue operations at sea, including rescue and support techniques
o accounting for and supporting survivors during their transfer to a place of safety
o shoreside responses to a maritime MRO, and integrating the at-sea and on-shore elements
o communications
o learning, training & exercising.

9 Conclusions

9 Conclusions

9.1 Detailed conclusions resulting from the workshop will be for the participating organisations to define.

9.2 The IMRF facilitator will highlight any particular points s/he feels are outstanding, and the following general conclusions:

 

o efficient coordination of all stakeholders’ responses is vital to effective MRO response
o good communication is vital to successful coordination – before, during and after an MRO
o there needs to be an overall MRO plan, and individual stakeholders should check that their own plans coincide with it
o the planning process requires effort but, if done thoroughly, will result in continuous improvement (see guidance paper 2.1).

 

10 The IMRF Facilitator

10 The IMRF Facilitator

10.1 The IMRF MRO workshop package consists of a schedule and an exercise drawn up in consultation with the workshop hosts along the lines described above. An example is set out at Annex.

10.2 The IMRF will also supply a facilitator, primarily to run the tabletop exercise. The facilitator will be an MRO subject-matter expert drawn from one of the IMRF member organisations, with previous IMRF MRO workshop experience. As discussed, his/her role is to raise the various MRO-related questions identified by the IMRF MRO Project and to chair the subsequent discussions. S/he can suggest possible solutions, but should make it quite clear to the participants that the final answers can only come from local stakeholders.

11 Workshop Funding

11 Workshop Funding

11.1 The workshops are relatively cheap to run and may be partially or wholly funded by host organisations, participating organisations, or through the IMRF itself, from general or event-specific funding streams. They are offered on a not-for-profit basis, in accordance with the IMRF’s main charitable aim of improving global SAR.

11.2 Costs are usually confined to hire of a suitable venue and presentation equipment (ideally these are provided by the workshop hosts); refreshments; the IMRF facilitator’s travel and accommodation costs; and any travel and accommodation costs incurred by the participants. A charge may also be made in some circumstances to cover the IMRF planner’s and facilitator’s time.

11.3 Participating organisations are usually expected to cover their own representatives’ costs. The host organisation usually covers the cost of venue, equipment and refreshments. The facilitator’s costs may be covered by his/her parent organisation; by sponsorship; or by levying an attendance fee.

12 Arranging a Workshop

12 Arranging a Workshop

12.1 Organisations interested in arranging, or participating in, an IMRF MRO workshop should contact the IMRF secretariat by emailing info@imrf.org.uk

12.2 Working with the workshop hosts, the IMRF secretariat will arrange date, venue and other administrative details, and will identify a suitable facilitator. Funding issues and the details of the exercise scenario will be agreed by the hosts and the IMRF team.

13 Summary

13 Summary

o The IMRF MRO workshop package is offered as an aid to the planning process.
o The workshops:
  provide an opportunity to focus on MRO issues
  bring stakeholders together in a safe and interactive environment
  raise awareness of the challenges commonly experienced in MROs
  share MRO experience from around the world
  help identify shortcomings in response planning for further action later by the local stakeholders.

14 Further Reading

14 Further Reading

14.1 For further reading on training for mass rescue operations, exercises or drills, and learning from experience, follow this link.

ANNEX

ANNEX

The IMRF mass rescue operations workshop format

1) Introduction

 

o Welcome by the workshop host organisation.
o The IMRF facilitator explains the aims of the workshop and how it will proceed.
o Mass rescue operations are defined.


2) Presentations

 

 

o In a ‘stakeholder’ workshop each participating organisation gives a brief presentation explaining their own MRO roles and capabilities.
o In a ‘general’ workshop presentations are given on particular MRO subjects by subject-matter experts.

 

3) Tabletop Exercise

o A scenario relevant to the participants and to the agreed workshop objectives is outlined by the facilitator. A cruise ship emergency is commonly used because of the additional layers of complexity such a case can entail. This scenario is assumed in these notes – but alternative MRO scenarios may be agreed with the workshop hosts at the planning stage.
  The scenario is advanced in stages, with discussion by mixed table groups followed by plenary discussion at each stage, concluding with a general discussion.
     
o Stage 1: First Alert
  It is not always the case that initial alerting is in accordance with the provisions of the GMDSS, and there is often some early confusion and/or lack of information: the scenario should replicate this early uncertainty realistically.
  Participants are asked to discuss how the first alert should be handled and what their own organisation’s response to it should be; what information is needed and how can it be acquired; and what coordination and communications connections should be established.
  Responders should be pro-active even when necessary information is lacking: time lost at this stage of a response cannot be regained later.
     
o Stage 2: More Information
  More information ‘from the scene’ is added.
  While some cases will be obvious MROs from the start, not all will be. The exercise scenario should not be an obvious MRO from the outset, to stimulate discussion of what responses are appropriate and who should decide that an MRO is necessary.
  Participants are again asked to describe their own organisation’s response, now that more information is available. Overall, the initial response should include at least the alerting of SAR facilities, including shipping in the vicinity.
  Participants are also asked to describe the command, control, coordination and communications network that should now be in place: this network has to be agreed and understood for efficient response.
     
o Stage 3: The Distress Phase
  The scenario is advanced, with more information from the scene which indicates that the incident is now in the distress phase and that an MRO is, or soon will be, required. Additional SAR facilities such as shipping in the area should be identified and tasked.
  The scenario should involve a request for assistance other than ‘traditional’ rescue – firefighting and medical assistance on board the casualty, for example.
  Participants should be asked how the new information affects their own organisation’s and the overall response; how to respond to the request for assistance; and what to do with the various SAR facilities now known to be available.
  Participants should also be invited to discuss the role of On Scene Coordinator; what is required in this role; and which of the unit commanders available should be selected to take it on.
     
o Stage 4: Mass Rescue at Sea
  The scenario is again advanced, with a full MRO now clearly required.
  Participants should be invited to discuss recovery of people in distress at sea, including the implications of SOLAS regulation III/17.1 (which requires ships on international voyages to have a recovery plan); the alternatives to recovery (supporting people aboard the casualty unit, in survival craft, etc); what constitutes a ‘place of safety’; and accounting for everyone involved.
  The importance of having both a search and a rescue plan should be emphasised.
     
o Stage 5: The Shoreside Response
  The focus shifts to the necessary response at the ‘places of safety’, emphasising the need to pre-plan generically and to ensure early alerting and good lines of communication between the at-sea and on-shore elements of the MRO. The information needs of the various shoreside responders should be included in the discussion.
  The need for a robust news media response policy and structure should also be emphasised.
  Sophisticated responses by passenger shipping and offshore industry companies may be expected in some cases, and should be incorporated in the planning.
  Participants should also be invited to discuss survivors and their friends ashore as sources of information. Identities of people reported missing need to be checked against those known to have been recovered, and searches should continue, if possible, until the lists match.
     
o Stage 6: Exercise Conclusion
  Participants are asked if there is anything else they would like to discuss, in plenary.
  The general questions below may be considered in this concluding discussion, or may be asked rhetorically, to prompt further discussion by the participants after the workshop:
  Are we ready?
  Do we know, and agree with, the plan?
  What mass rescue resources do we have, and how can we fill the gaps?
  Have we trained? Have we tested the plan and learned the resulting lessons?
  Are we sure about the command, control, coordination and communications networks?
  What difference do weather, time of day, and location (including distance offshore) make to our responses?


4) Workshop Conclusion

 

o The facilitator will emphasise the importance of having a ‘SMARTA’ plan: one that is SPECIFIC, MEANINGFUL, ATTAINABLE, RELEVANT, TRACKED and ACCESSIBLE. In other words, a plan that is agreed and which works. (See guidance paper 2.2.)
o The overall planning process is described in conclusion:

 

seethroughgrapg

 

5.5 General Guidance on Preparing MRO Exercise and Incident Reports

Written by David Jardine-Smith. Posted in Train, Test & Learn

Contents

Contents

This paper discusses:

o  the need for reports of MRO incidents and exercises
o the compilation of reports
o report contents
o analysis and recommendations
o dissemination of reports and provides example formats.

1 Overview


1 Overview

1.1 For a general introduction to the IMRF’s mass rescue operations (MRO) guidance, please see MRO guidance paper 1.1 ‘Complex incident planning – the challenge: acknowledging the problem, and mass rescue incident types’.

1.2 The guidance in this section relates to training in MRO plans, exercising them, and learning lessons from incident and exercise experience. Guidance papers 5.1 & 5.3 refer to training and exercising, and guidance paper 5.2 introduces the IMRF’s MRO workshops, which can form an early part of the planning and training processes and which also form part of the process of disseminating MRO lessons learned. Guidance paper 5.4 considers the learning process. This paper suggests basic formats for MRO incident and exercise reports.

2 Learning Lessons: The Need for Reports

2 Learning Lessons: The Need for Reports

2.1 As discussed in guidance papers 5.3 & 5.4, MRO planning and training should be tested by exercises or drills, and will be tested by real incidents. Honest and careful appraisal of the results of these events will enable lessons to be identified – things that went wrong and need to be corrected; and things that went well, which should be drawn into the planning and training parts of the cycle.

2.2 To enable the proper collation and recording of lessons learned in particular, a formal report should be made. Without a formal report process there is a real risk that important lessons will be missed, even by the organisations which took part in the response, and certainly by others, who did not take part but who can benefit greatly from the experience the participants gained. MROs are rare: it is very important to take the opportunities presented by MRO exercises and, especially, incidents to assess the effectiveness of your planning and training and to make improvements wherever possible.

2.3 This applies to non-participants in particular events as well as those individuals and organisations which were involved in them. We can, and should, learn from each other’s experience. Proper reporting enables this to happen.

3 Compiling the Report

3 Compiling the Report

3.1 Depending on the scale of the incident or exercise, the incident or exercise report may be a matter for the SAR Coordinator to initiate and/or lead or oversee (see guidance paper 4.2) or, if the event had an international aspect, it may be compiled jointly. Usually the State which led the coordination of the event will also coordinate the compilation of the report.

3.2 The report should contain sufficient information to enable the reader to understand what happened and how and (if this is ascertainable) why it happened. Normally the report will also detail who was involved (usually by identifying organisations and units, rather than individuals), when and where. It may be the case, however, that the responsible authorities will agree to redact parts of the report, usually for legal reasons.

It is to be hoped that report details will not be redacted simply because of fear of embarrassment. To do so must lead to questions as to the report process’s reliability and usefulness.

In these cases a limited, ‘depersonalised’ report can still be of use to other planners and responders, and should be published.

3.3 In actual MRO cases in particular there will be a great deal of supporting information to consider. This can be included in the report, but preferably in appendices, to enable the reader of the main text to focus on the salient points.

3.4 The precise format and contents of the report will depend upon local requirements and, to some extent, the circumstances of the case. Example formats for an exercise report and an incident report are given at Annex 1 and Annex 2 to this paper respectively.

3.5 Reports should be as open and honest as possible. The principles of accident investigation (as opposed to litigation) are recommended here. The sole objective of analysing and reporting on exercise or incident response should be to improve MRO preparedness. The ‘lessons learned’ process is not about placing blame for mistakes, or rewarding good practice. MRO exercise and incident reports should be drawn up in support of the learning processes discussed in guidance paper 5.4.

3.6 The guidance material in this series may be used as an analytical tool. If this is done, the IMRF MRO project team would welcome feedback on its usefulness in this respect. Please contact info@imrf.org.uk, or visit www.imrfmro.org.

4 Analysis and Recommendations

4 Analysis and Recommendations

4.1 The most important part of the report is the analysis of the response, whether the event is a drill or an actual incident. The report should focus on the various pertinent aspects of the incident or exercise – for example:

  the initial alert and response
search action
rescue action
reception arrangements at the place(s) of safety
interaction with other incident responses such as counter-pollution activity
coordination
communications
public relations
post-incident recovery, etc.

4.2 From this analysis the lessons that can be learned can be identified, and recommendations made accordingly. Recommendations should be ‘SMART’:

o Specific – it is clear who the recommendation is addressed to, and what action is proposed
o Meaningful – the recommendation is focussed and sufficiently detailed
o Attainable – the recommendation can be achieved
o  Relevant – the recommendation is realistic, based on the addressee’s role and capabilities, and is supported by the evidence
o Tracked – progress on implementing the recommendation is monitored and its completion is recorded, or, if it cannot be implemented, the reason why not is given.

4.3 Initial responses to recommendations made in the report should also be included in it when practicable, and the results of action taken to implement the report’s recommendations should be appended to it when available.

5 Disseminating the Report

5 Disseminating the Report

5.1 The report should be disseminated to all organisations involved in the response to the incident. It should be sent in draft form first, inviting comment. If dissent arises and proposed amendments cannot be agreed, the dissenting organisation should be invited to add an appendix to the report, setting out their views.

5.2 Local, national or regional regulations or agreements may require that the report should also be sent to relevant statutory authorities and other recipients.

5.3 In general, it is recommended that reports should be distributed to any organisation that may find them helpful, in the spirit of allowing others to learn from rare experience. To this end it is recommended that the SAR Coordinator consider sending a copy of the report to the International Maritime Organization, in consultation with the relevant authorities. The IMRF’s MRO project team would also welcome a copy, for inclusion in the online library of useful information at www.imrfmro.org.

6 Summary

6 Summary

o  Honest and careful appraisal of the results of MRO incidents and exercises will enable lessons to be identified.
o A formal report should be made, to enable the proper collation and recording of these lessons and an assessment of the effectiveness of planning and training.
o This applies to non-participants in the reported event as well as those who were involved in it. We can, and should, learn from each other’s experience.
o The report should contain sufficient information to enable the reader to understand what happened and how and (if this is ascertainable) why it happened.
o Reports should be as open and honest as possible.
o The most important part of the report is the analysis of the response. From this analysis the lessons that can be learned can be identified, and ‘SMART’ recommendations made accordingly.
o The report should be disseminated to all organisations involved in the response to the incident, and to other recipients as required or who may find it helpful. The IMRF would be pleased to receive a copy, to add to our online library of MRO information.
o The SAR Coordinator should also consider sending a copy of the report to the IMO.

7 Further Reading

7 Further Reading

7.1 For further reading on training for mass rescue operations, exercises or drills, and learning from experience, follow this link.

ANNEX 1

ANNEX 1

Exercise Reports

Please also refer to guidance paper 5.3 as regards exercise types, aims, objectives, conduct, debriefing arrangements, etc.

An exercise report should include:

the exercise title
the list of participating organisations
  This also serves as the report distribution list.
the exercise controller’s contact details (to coordinate further correspondence)
the date, time, type and location of the exercise
the exercise aims
participating organisations’ objectives
a brief summary of events, including a timeline and points of particular interest
debrief arrangements
analysis of results
  The guidance contained in this series can be used as an analytical tool. Feedback to the IMRF’s project team would be very welcome, both on the results of the analysis and the use of this guidance material as a tool: see www.imrfmro.org
lessons learned, with particular reference to the exercise aims and objectives
recommendations
responses to recommendations, if available
appendices & annexes: the original exercise orders
    chartlets, etc.
    exercise logs
    participants’ own reports (if approved for general distribution).

ANNEX 2

ANNEX 2

Incident Reports

An incident report should include:

the report title – name of the unit(s) in distress and the type of casualty (for example, ‘Fire aboard the cruise ship Nonsuch‘)
  This may be a ship or ships, an offshore installation or aircraft, etc. In some MROs there may be multiple units in distress: a fishing fleet overwhelmed by stress of weather, for example. In others there may be no ‘units’ at all: the evacuation by sea of people caught up in a land incident, for example.
the date, time and location of the incident
the report distribution list: this should include all organisations involved in the response to the incident, plus statutory bodies and other recipients as required by regulation and/or agreement
  It is recommended that the SAR Coordinator consider submitting a copy of the report to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and to the IMRF’s MRO project team: see www.imrfmro.org
an executive summary of events and recommendations
brief details of the unit(s) in distress
brief details of the operator of the unit(s) in distress
  If a ship, the ‘company’ as defined in the ISM Code – the organisation with direct responsibility for how the ship is operated; not necessarily the owners.
brief details, as appropriate, of how the unit(s) in distress came to be where they were (for example, if a ship, last port, next intended port, cruising, etc)
list of responding units and their parent organisations (all of whom should be on the distribution list)
detailed incident narrative, including a timeline and points of particular interest – who, what, where, when and (if known) why and how
summary of debrief arrangements – how the report was compiled
analysis of the incident response, focussing on its different aspects – for example, initial alert and response, search, rescue, the place(s) of safety, coordination, communications, public relations, post-incident recovery, etc
  The guidance contained in this series can be used as an analytical tool. Feedback to the IMRF’s project team would be very welcome, both on the results of the analysis and the use of this guidance material as a tool: see www.imrfmro.org
lessons learned
recommendations
responses to recommendations, if available
report author’s contact details (to coordinate further correspondence)
appendices & annexes: further details of the unit(s) in distress
    chartlets, etc.
    incident logs
    details of responding units (including SAR capabilities and limitations)
    participants’ own reports (if approved for general distribution).

5.4 General Guidance on Learning Processes

Written by David Jardine-Smith. Posted in Train, Test & Learn

Download PDF Version

Download PDF Version

Contents

Contents

This paper discusses:

o   the place of learning in the plan – train – test – review cycle
o   the difficulty of learning lessons
o   how to learn lessons effectively
o   what to share, and sharing mechanisms
o   the IMRF's role in disseminating MRO lessons learned internationally

1 Overview

1 Overview

1.1 For a general introduction to the IMRF's mass rescue operations (MRO) guidance, please see MRO guidance paper 1.1 'Complex incident planning – the challenge: acknowledging the problem, and mass rescue incident types'.

1.2 The guidance in this section relates to training in MRO plans, exercising them, and learning lessons from incident and exercise experience. Guidance papers 5.1, 5.3 & 5.5 refer to training, exercising, and reporting. Guidance paper 5.2 introduces the IMRF’s MRO workshops, which can form an early part of the planning and training processes and which also form part of the process of disseminating MRO lessons learned. This paper considers the learning process.

2 Plan, Train, Test, Review

2 Plan, Train, Test, Review

2.1 It is a common theme in this guidance series that MROs should be planned for, and that key personnel identified in the plan should be trained for their roles. We discuss planning and training in guidance papers 2.1 and 5.1 respectively. Both planning and training should be tested by exercises or drills (discussed in guidance paper 5.3), and will be tested by real incidents. Honest and careful appraisal of the results of these events will then enable lessons to be identified – perhaps things that went wrong and need to be corrected; perhaps things that went well, including innovations, that should be drawn into the planning and training parts of the cycle.

2.2 This process is illustrated below.

wheel2

2.3 If we check the adequacy of planning and training effectively, and act upon the results, this will initiate improvements in planning and training in turn – and the 'hill' of continuous improvement will be climbed!

2.4 Climbing a hill takes determination and effort. It can be hard to learn lessons. But the process described above does not work unless all involved, from the SAR Coordinator (see guidance paper 4.2 ) and the senior managers of the organisations concerned to the members of individual response units, adopt a positive attitude and are determined to learn from their experiences.

2.5 It follows that the learning part of the cycle, like planning, training and exercising, must be 'owned' by everyone involved: see guidance paper 1.2 . Plans will only be effective if the people who have to implement them feel that the plan is 'theirs'; training only works if people understand the benefit of being trained; exercises need to be taken seriously by the people participating in them – and lessons will only be learned by people ready to learn them. And this can be difficult, at the personal, organisational, national and international levels.

3 The Difficulty of Learning Lessons

3 The Difficulty of Learning Lessons

3.1 It is undoubtedly the case that learning lessons is a problem – and this applies even when the lesson is a positive one. Experience shows that there are real risks of faults being underplayed, of good ideas not being developed (partly because of the rarity of MROs), and of lessons of all types not being widely disseminated. Even if exercise planners and participants, or the responders to actual MRO cases, carefully analyse the exercise or incident results and agree where improvements can be made, it is not always the case that the results and proposed improvements are shared as widely as they should be.

3.2 The International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual notes, in Volume II chapter 6.15.65-66, that:

"It is very important to develop and share lessons learned from actual MRO operations and exercises. However, concerns about legal liability (often excessive), may discourage staff from highlighting matters that could have been improved.

"Since lessons learned can help prevent recurring serious mistakes, agreement should be reached among principal participants on how lessons learned can be depersonalized and made widely available. Lessons learned from MROs should be shared not just locally, but internationally."

3.3 In the context of multi-aircraft responses IAMSAR Volume I chapter 6.7.5 adds that:

“It is recommended that SAR organizations share their experiences and recommendations for multiple aircraft SAR operations with each other, and with their State civil and military aviation authorities, to improve procedures and plans.”

In fact this principle applies to all organisations involved or likely to become involved in MROs; maritime and land responders as well as their aeronautical colleagues.

3.4 It will be obvious to the reader that we should learn lessons from our experience in MROs, and that we should share that experience. The point here is to turn what is 'obvious' into actual, useful practice.

4 Learning Lessons Effectively

4 Learning Lessons Effectively

4.1 As discussed in guidance paper 2.1 , identifying and learning lessons is part of the planning process. In other words this stage of the continuous improvement cycle should be planned for, and fully supported, from the start.

4.2 To this end the learning process must kept in mind before, during and after any MRO event, whether an exercise or an incident. It is, as discussed in guidance papers 4.1 & 4.9, a key part of the command, control, coordination and communications network that underpins successful MRO planning and MROs themselves.

4.3 Good, clear, honest and inclusive communication remains as important in the investigation and analysis stages, after the MRO, as it was in the planning and action stages. It is the responsibility of all involved to ensure that this communication takes place. Members of 'front line' response units should report – and must be encouraged by their managers or commanders to report – things that went well and things that did not go well.

4.4 Managers and MRO planners should carefully and honestly consider these reports, the reports of other investigations into the event, and their own analysis of the MRO results. They should share their findings with their partner organisations, on a coordinated basis.

4.5 It is part of the SAR Coordinator's responsibility to control this process overall; to see that analysis is done, and to share the outcomes widely, beyond the immediate participants, at the national, regional and international levels as appropriate.

4.6 The IAMSAR Manual notes the possibility that concerns about legal liability will hinder this process, most particularly in the analysis of actual events. It also notes that these concerns can be given too much weight. It is usually the case in law that individuals and organisations will only be open to legal sanction if they make gross errors; and it is often the case in life that any such errors will come to light whatever efforts are made to conceal them.

Including failing to act at all – and that can include failure to act at the planning, training or exercise stages.

Whether or not that is the case, it is certainly better for future mass rescue operations if experience is shared as openly as possible. SAR Coordinators and response organisation managers should ensure that a framework is designed, with legal assistance as necessary, to ensure that this can happen.

4.7 There may also be concerns, particularly among managers, about political liability. No organisation likes to be seen to have failed, any more than any individual does. But on balance it is better to adopt the position that, as no system is perfect, the organisation will always actively seek to learn from its experience and to improve its responses in future. To pretend that everything is already as good as good as it can be is to fly in the face of experience, and to leave hostages to fortune!

4.8 It follows from all this that the learning process should be an active one; not one that people have to be made to do but one which they are keen to take part in. This attitude thrives best in a culture which encourages it, from the SAR Coordinator and the most senior managers down.

5 What to Share?

5 What to Share?

5.1 Deciding what lessons to share depends on the recipient. Individuals and organisations directly involved in a response, whether in reality or as a drill, will require detail to enable them to adjust their practices in the light of particular experience. Others, not involved in the event, will usually need less detail. Indeed, as IAMSAR points out, lessons can be 'depersonalised' altogether.

5.2 It is very important to remember that the 'lessons learned' process is not about placing blame for mistakes, nor is it about rewarding good practice. There are other mechanisms for these functions. The learning processes we are discussing in this guidance paper are to do with the mistakes or good practices themselves. What caused the mistake and what was its effect? How can it be avoided in future? Or, conversely, how can the example of good practice be built into the planning so that the response next time will be better?

5.3 It is in this sense that reports can be 'depersonalised'. It is what happened or did not happen that counts for this purpose, not who did or did not do it.

5.4 The extent of the depersonalisation depends on the SAR Coordinator and/or those preparing the report for dissemination. More anonymity is likely to be preferred in the case of mistakes, and less in the case of good practice; but what is important is that enough information is disseminated for others, not involved in the response in question, to learn from it and improve their own response capabilities. The report can be completely anonymous, if that is preferred, with all names, dates and other identifiers redacted.

This is, perhaps, a little disingenuous. MROs are rare and, if enough detail is included for the report to retain its usefulness, a knowledgeable reader will probably be able to work out which incident is being talked about. But the principle stands. The wider the information is spread, the more people can learn from it.

5.5 Overall it is better to share than not to do so, and it is best to share as much as we can. Do not assume that potential readers will already know what you have just seen highlighted in an incident or exercise. If they do not, they can learn from your experience too. If they do, at least your experience reinforces theirs.

6 Mechanisms for Sharing

6 Mechanisms for Sharing

6.1 At the local, regional and national levels the SAR Coordinator should ensure that a formal mechanism exists so that incidents and exercises will be carefully analysed and the results of that analysis shared among and by responders’ parent organisations and among responders themselves. This should include sharing with the SAR Coordinators of neighbouring States – and must do so if the planning calls for regional resources to be shared in response to MROs. A suggested report format may be found in guidance paper 5.5.

6.2 Recipients should also be encouraged by the SAR Coordinator and senior managers to make the effort necessary to understand the points arising from the shared reports and to apply them as appropriate.

6.3 It is also very important to share lessons learned at the international level. The International Maritime Organization (see www.imo.org) operates the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS), which contains a 'Marine Casualties and Incidents' module which States can (and should) use to report accidents – and the responses to them. However, this is a passive system: the user has to enter it, and has to know enough about an incident – a ship's name, for example – to access details.

6.4 A more proactive response is to draw the IMO's attention to lessons learned in an MRO by submitting a paper to the relevant Committee or Sub-Committee. This has to be done at the State level for particular incidents, although non-governmental organisations in consultative status at the IMO, such as the IMRF, can bring forward general points for the Organisation's attention. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) / IMO Joint Working Group on SAR, which, among other things, edits the IAMSAR Manual on behalf of both organisations, can also be approached.

7 The IMRF's Role in Disseminating MRO Lessons Learned Internationally

7 The IMRF's Role in Disseminating MRO Lessons Learned Internationally

7.1 The primary purpose of the IMRF’s mass rescue operations project, and of this series of guidance papers, is to help disseminate lessons learned in such events. Relevant information may be submitted to the IMRF for addition to the reference library of information we have established on our website, at www.imrfmro.org, or via www.international-maritime-rescue.org.  This information is made freely available to all, and will be updated by the IMRF’s project team.

7.2 Please note, however, that the IMRF guidance is subject to copyright, as are some other materials on our website. Readers may make personal or organisational (non-commercial) use of these materials, but should contact info@imrf.org.uk for permission to use them for other purposes. The IMRF is a charity, devoted to improving maritime SAR worldwide: any proposed commercial use – that is, for financial gain – of materials derived from the IMRF's copyrighted material will be subject to a charge to help us in our lifesaving work.

7.3 Information held on any website is passive in nature, no matter how easy it is to access. The IMRF's MRO workshops are an active method of sharing this information: see guidance paper 5.2 . The IMRF may also be able to help disseminate information, ideas and guidance in other ways. Again, contact info@imrf.org.uk for further information.

7.4 Above all, experience of these rare but very challenging events should be shared, so that anyone who may become involved in an MRO can be that much better prepared. Together, we are stronger.

8 Summary

8 Summary

o   Honest and careful appraisal of the results of MRO incidents and exercises will enable lessons to be identified that should be drawn into the planning and training parts of the continuous improvement cycle. Learning should be planned for, and fully supported, from the start.
o   This process will only work if all involved, from the SAR Coordinator and the senior managers of the organisations concerned to the members of individual response units, are determined to learn from their experiences.
o   Learning is difficult. Experience shows that there are real risks of faults being underplayed, of good ideas not being developed, and of lessons of all types not being widely disseminated.
o   Managers and MRO planners should carefully and honestly consider the MRO's results. They should share their findings with their partner organisations on a coordinated basis.
o   It is part of the SAR Coordinator's responsibility to see that analysis is done, and to share the outcomes widely, beyond the immediate participants.
o   Recipients should be encouraged to make the effort necessary to understand the points arising from the shared reports and to apply them as appropriate.
o   Legal or political concerns about sharing lessons learned should be addressed at the planning stage. It is better for future mass rescue operations if experience is shared as openly as possible.
o   The 'lessons learned' process is not about placing blame for mistakes, nor is it about rewarding good practice. Reports can be 'depersonalised' if desired: the important thing is to share experience as widely as possible so that as many people as possible can learn from it.
o   International means exist for disseminating lessons learned in maritime MROs; chiefly via the IMO.
o   The IMRF's online MRO library, of which the papers in this guidance series are a part, and MRO workshops are also means of sharing information.

9 Further Reading

9 Further Reading

9.1 For further reading on training for mass rescue operations, exercises or drills, and learning from experience, follow this link.

Download PDF Version

Download PDF Version

5.3 General Guidance on Exercises/Drills

Written by David Jardine-Smith. Posted in Train, Test & Learn

Download PDF Version

Download PDF Version

Contents

Contents

This paper discusses:

o   the need for effective MRO exercises
o   MRO exercise types
o   the funding of MRO exercises
o   the requirement to exercise emergency cooperation arrangements placed on certain passenger ships by international regulation
o   exercise aims, objectives and roles
o   exercise orders and reports

and includes a list of suggested exercise components.

1 Overview

1 Overview

1.1 For a general introduction to the IMRF's mass rescue operations (MRO) guidance, please see MRO guidance paper 1.1 'Complex incident planning – the challenge: acknowledging the problem, and mass rescue incident types'.

1.2 The guidance in this section relates to training in MRO plans, exercising them, and learning lessons from incident and exercise experience. Guidance papers 5.1, 5.4 & 5.5 refer to training, learning, and reporting. Guidance paper 5.2 introduces the IMRF’s MRO workshops, which can form an early part of the planning and training processes and which also form part of the process of disseminating MRO lessons learned. This paper considers MRO exercises.

2 Plan, Train, Test Review

2 Plan, Train, Test, Review

2.1 It is a common theme in this guidance series that MROs should be planned for, and that key personnel identified in the plan should be trained for their roles. We discuss planning and training in guidance papers 2.1 5.1 respectively. Both planning and training should be tested by exercises or drills, and will be tested by real incidents.

2.2 This process is illustrated below.

wheel2

2.3 Planning alone is insufficient: people must be trained to various degrees in the implementation of the plan or it will not work. The adequacy of planning and training is then checked and the results, if properly acted upon, will lead to improvements in both planning and training – and the 'hill' of continuous improvement will be climbed!

2.4 Climbing a hill takes determination and effort. The testing of plans and training is not a risk-free process: it can reveal shortcomings which must be addressed. This only happens when organisations want it to happen. Exercises take time and resources, both of which cost money; and if that money is to be well spent, and an objective of the exercise is to conduct a real test, the organisations involved must accept that this will entail the identification and learning of lessons, with further action to follow, repairing faults or building good new ideas into the planning. See guidance paper 5.4 .

2.5 It follows that exercises, like planning and training, must be 'owned' by the people conducting them: see guidance paper 1.2 . Just as plans will only be effective if the people who have to implement them feel that the plan is 'theirs', and training only works if people understand the benefit of being trained, so exercises, to be worthwhile, need to be taken seriously by the people participating in them. If an exercise – particularly (but not only) a live exercise – is seen to be unrealistic, or if people (planners as well as players) can say afterwards that 'that only went wrong because it was an exercise...', then the value of the event will be in doubt.

2.6 As noted in guidance paper 5.1 in the context of training, it can be hard to justify expenditure on MRO exercises when MROs are rare events. But, as discussed in guidance paper 1.1 , the justification is provided by the high-consequence nature of such events. There may be a plan and people may have been trained in it, but if planning and training are not tested appropriately the risk remains that they will fail in practice. The consequences of failure for the response organisations and individuals concerned can be enormous – but for the people the MRO is meant to save, they can be fatal.

2.7 MRO exercises are therefore, we argue, as essential to MRO preparation as planning and training. Exercises are required to test systems and procedures; to identify shortcomings and potential improvements; to promote good practice; and to enhance liaison between participating organisations.

2.8 Successful exercises require careful planning, execution and evaluation. Their success may be measured by how many problems are discovered; by how much is learned; by how much the plans are subsequently improved; and by how few mistakes are repeated during the next exercise.

3 MRO Exercise Types

3 MRO Exercise Types

3.1 We can discuss types of MRO exercise under two headings: what sort of outcomes do we want, and what sort of exercise should it therefore be?

3.2 Desired outcomes should determine the exercise format chosen. Exercises can be designed to achieve three different sorts of outcome.

o   An exercise can be a DEMONSTRATION, showing how the process – in this case a mass rescue operation – should be carried out, perhaps for political or public consumption
o   It can be a TRAINING EXERCISE, part of a team or individual development programme
o   It can be a TEST, designed to see how effective the developed plans and training are.


3.3 Each of the functions above has its place. There is nothing wrong with laying on a 'demonstration', for example, provided that that is the agreed purpose of the event. On the other hand, we should not expect things to work perfectly in a 'test'. Indeed, it would be a little worrying if they did! Few if any human endeavours are perfect, after all, and that slope in the diagram above is theoretically endless. To find nothing wrong at all may be an indication that we weren't looking hard enough... When things go wrong in a 'testing' exercise, we should be pleased rather than displeased, for it is preferable that something should go wrong in an exercise rather than in a real MRO. Similarly we should be on the lookout for things that go unexpectedly well. See guidance paper 5.4 .

3.4 It is very important for participants at all levels in a training exercise or a test to be open to learning from their experience, whether good or bad. Without such openness much of the value of the event will be lost. It is understandable if planners are upset when holes are found in their plan, or managers when their organisations are seen to fall short, or individuals when they make mistakes – but during an exercise is the right time for these things to happen, rather than during an MRO itself. All concerned should try to see it in this light.

3.5 The other heading under which we can place exercises and drills is that of format. These are, generally:

o   LIVE exercises, which may be full-scale or limited in scope; training or testing particular functions, for example
o   SIMULATION exercises, involving multi-bridge simulator suites or similar arrangements to give a realistic feel to the event without actually deploying units at sea
o   TABLETOP or DISCUSSION exercises, which are primarily intended to promote debate and mutual understanding, as well as testing the principles of the plan and players' understanding of the plan and of their own roles and responsibilities
  'Tabletop' exercises can involve modelling, traditionally on a table visible to all the players, although screens or other displays can also be used. The use of models is designed to help players visualise what is going on, and can be very effective. But models are not essential, especially for the more discursive sort of exercise.
o   COMMAND POST or COORDINATION exercises, which are 'live' in the sense that the players are separated (in different rooms or, better, where they usually work) but do not actually undertake the SAR actions they are discussing
o   COMMUNICATIONS exercises, which may, at the simplest level, be checks that previously identified communication links work, or may increase in complexity, working through simple scenarios, so that, at the upper level of complexity, a communications exercise effectively becomes a command post exercise.

3 .6 The main point here is that the format chosen should be suited to the exercise requirements; its aims and objectives (see below). A demonstration exercise will usually be a live one, for example, while the tabletop or discussion format will be better suited to fulfilling training objectives. To test a system fully will require live elements, but the use of simulators can reduce both expense and risk. Command post and communications exercises can also be partial tests, and will assist with training and familiarisation.

3.7 Exercises can be conducted in real time or on a 'stop-the-clock' basis. Stopping the clock means pausing the exercise events to enable discussion or repositioning: less realistic, of course, but enabling those conducting the exercise to ensure that points are not missed or time lost unnecessarily. Live exercises will most often take place in real time, although they too can be broken up into sections, to allow full examination of each part of the exercise before moving on to the next.

This was done during the Black Swan exercise organised by the United States Coast Guard and the Bahamian authorities in 2013. Evacuation, transfer to places of safety, and various actions at the places of safety and in further support were conducted in discrete sections of the exercise, with players and observers redeploying between 'acts'. The use of simulators, on the other hand, can save on the 'dead' time and expense incurred while live units deploy.

Tabletop, command post and communications exercises can either be conducted in real time, to simulate the time pressures of a real incident, or on a 'stop-the-clock' basis.

3.8 Not all exercises have to be live, full-scale affairs. They would probably be too infrequent if they were – and the restrictions placed on live exercises in the interests of safety mean that even a full-scale exercise cannot be complete. They also allow little or no time for discussion or reflection while they are under way. Each exercise format has its strengths and weaknesses and a mix of formats over time is best.

3.9 One recommended approach is to hold a tabletop exercise prior to a live one, enabling discussion before seeing if the plan works in practice. More generally it is recommended that a full-scale live exercise should be the culmination of a series of different types of smaller exercises related to different aspects of the MRO subject. Starting with relatively simple, single-agency exercises the series can build through a succession of tabletops, workshops, and small live exercises testing different parts of the process and including more and more partners to end with a full live multi-agency exercise. Experience has shown that this method gives the best learning curve.

3.10 And the process does not actually end there, of course. The cycle is a continuous one. As people come and go from organisations or as organisational structures and capabilities change, so the continuous improvement cycle must be maintained – planning, training, checking, reviewing, planning...

4 MRO Exercise Funding

4 MRO Exercise Funding

4.1 Live exercises in particular can be very expensive, both at the time (when crew time and fuel costs can be major factors) and during the planning and post-exercise analysis stages, when representatives of many organisations must meet. One of the benefits of simulation exercises is that some, at least, of these costs can be avoided. Communications and some command post exercises can be relatively cheap, but even a tabletop exercise incurs some cost – chiefly in staff time.

4.2 Guidance paper 5.1 discusses the justification of training costs, and guidance paper 3.4 covers MRO funding issues in general, including the costs of preparing for MROs. The latter paper cites the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual, Volume II chapter 6.15.11:

"There will often be resistance to paying the high price in terms of time, effort and funding that preparedness for major incidents entails, particularly as they are rare events. The required levels of cooperation, coordination, planning, resources and exercises required for preparedness are challenging and do not happen without the requisite commitment of SAR authorities, regulatory authorities, transportation companies, sources of military and commercial assistance and others."

4.3 The exercise planners must be very clear as to their aims and objectives for each exercise and then should choose a format which will allow those aims and objectives to be met most efficiently.

5 IMO Guidance

5 IMO Guidance

5.1 The IAMSAR Manual contains guidance on MRO exercises, at Volume II appendix C in particular. Volume II chapter 6.15.12, referring to the guidance in appendix C, says that:

"MRO planning, preparations and exercises are essential since opportunities to handle actual incidents involving mass rescues are rare. Therefore the exercising of MRO plans is particularly important."

5.2 Appendix C, which is recommended reading, lists objectives that MRO exercises should ideally achieve, and the steps which are normally carried out during exercise planning.

6 Search and Rescue Cooperation Plans

6 Search and Rescue Cooperation Plans

6.1 SAR cooperation plans are discussed in guidance paper 4.9 in the context of the exchange of information required under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, regulation V/7-3, between passenger ships on international routes and SAR authorities. The regulation states that:

"Passenger ships shall have on board a plan for cooperation with appropriate search and rescue services in the event of an emergency. [...] The plan shall include provisions for periodic exercises to be undertaken to test its effectiveness. The plan shall be developed based on the guidelines developed by the [International Maritime Organization."

6.2 The IMO guidelines referred to in the regulation are currently contained in MSC Circular 1079, 'Guidelines for preparing plans for cooperation between search and rescue services and passenger ships'.

Although the regulation is restricted to ships engaged in international voyages, its provisions are applied by some States to all passenger ships. This is recommended.

6.3 Regarding the exercise requirement, the guidelines say that:

"Both frequency and type of exercise will depend on the circumstances in which the ship operates, availability of SAR service resources, etc. While it is very important that SAR cooperation arrangements be tested from time to time [...] it is also important that the benefits of such exercises are not diluted by over-exercising or by always exercising in particular ways or with particular authorities. Therefore, the ship should not be required to exercise her SAR cooperation arrangements more than once in any twelve month period. [...]

"Various types of exercise are acceptable [...] so long as the fundamental principle of cooperation between the ship, the company and SAR services is exercised. Tabletop exercises, SAR seminars and liaison exchanges involving ships personnel, shore-based company emergency response personnel and SAR service personnel can also be beneficial. [...]

"Exercises conducted under this regulation should occasionally include the passenger ship taking on the role of a SAR facility and, in particular, the role of On Scene Coordinator, if appropriate."

6.4 The principles contained in the regulation and IMO's guidelines may be usefully applied to exercises with other offshore industries. The point about over-exercising is also a valid one in general: if exercises become seen as a chore they will be less effective.

7 Exercise Aims and Objectives

7 Exercise Aims and Objectives

7.1 Agreed aims and objectives should drive any exercise or drill. Exercise format, scenario, players and outcomes will be determined by, and will depend upon, a clear understanding of the aims and objectives set.

7.2 The overall exercise aim(s) should be agreed at the outset by a group of exercise planners drawn from each of the participating organisations. The exercise planners will also decide their own organisation's detailed exercise objectives in support of the overall aims. The planning group then agrees an exercise type and scenario which will enable the pre-determined aims and objectives to be achieved. The scenario may be withheld from exercise players before the event, to enhance realism, but the rest of the exercise order (see below) should be promulgated to all.

7.3 'No-notice' exercises are possible in some circumstances, and provide a more realistic test of responses, if that is one of the agreed aims. It is, however, important to ensure that anyone tasked without prior notice is clearly informed that this is an exercise and not a real emergency, and that they should know how the exercise will be conducted in general.

8 Exercise Roles

8 Exercise Roles

8.1 A number of key roles can be identified in exercise planning and conduct. The various functions should be understood by all participants, to ensure that the exercise runs safely and according to its plan. The roles can be summarised as follows.

o   The EXERCISE CONTROLLER chairs the planning group and takes overall responsibility for the conduct of the exercise, including ensuring that risk assessments are completed as necessary.
o   EXERCISE DIRECTORS form the planning group, having executive authority with respect to their own organisation's commitment to the exercise. They agree the exercise aims and objectives, and are responsible for planning the scenario and the conduct of exercise play accordingly. They should be given authority to interrupt, alter or halt exercise play as required, especially for safety reasons. They are also responsible for agreeing and disseminating the final report on the exercise.
o   The PLAYERS are those personnel who respond to the exercise scenario and subsequent events. Players' prime responsibilities are to respond appropriately and safely to all aspects of the exercise. The exercise controller, directors, umpires and observers do not take part in the exercise as players.
o   UMPIRES are nominated personnel who monitor exercise play, report to the Exercise Directors as necessary – especially if they have safety concerns – and contribute to the final report.
o   OBSERVERS are invited to observe all or part of the exercise. They have no executive role, although they may be asked to contribute to the final report.

9 Safety

9 Safety

9.1 In live exercises it must be clearly established that safety is paramount and that it remains the responsibility of individuals, the commanders of participating units, and parent organisations as appropriate.

9.2 It is the responsibility of the exercise controller to ensure that a risk assessment has been completed and included in the exercise orders. Specific health and safety measures should also be identified: for example, restrictions on the use of exercise 'casualties'; actions to be taken in the event of bad weather on the day of the exercise; 'live' first aid or ambulance cover, and so on.

9.3 Umpires should be clearly identified, whose responsibility it is to ensure that all participants comply with safety requirements and do not place themselves, or others, in danger.

10 Exercise Orders and Reports

10 Exercise Orders and Reports

10.1 Exercise orders will be required, explaining where and when the exercise will be held and how it will be run. The orders should be developed by the planning group and distributed to all participants, and other stakeholders, in good time. It is particularly important that any necessary safety measures are explained to all, as discussed above, and that clear arrangements are put in place to ensure that the exercise is not confused with a real emergency if live action and/or communications are planned. Suggested headings for exercise orders are listed at Annex 1.

10.2 A thorough and honest review of the exercise, and a complete report on it, are essential. Details of ‘debrief’ meetings, when the exercise results will be analysed; arrangements for collecting debrief reports from participants; and arrangements for collating and disseminating the report should be identified in the exercise order. For suggested headings for exercise reports, see guidance paper 5.5.

10.3 Suggested headings for exercise orders and reports are listed at Annex 1.

11 Core Components

11 Core Components

11.1 A list of MRO exercise components to be considered by exercise planners is at Annex 2.

12 Summary

12 Summary

o   Effective MRO exercises are as essential to MRO preparation as planning and training are.
o   Exercises can be for demonstration purposes, part of a training programme, or to test plans and training.
o   It is very important for all exercise participants to be ready to learn from their experience, whether good or bad. Without such openness much of the value of the event will be lost.
o   The exercise format chosen should be suited to the agreed aims and objectives. Not all exercises must (or should) be live.
o   Exercises can be conducted in real time or on a 'stop-the-clock' basis to enable discussion etc.
o   It is recommended that a full-scale live exercise should be the culmination of a series of different types of smaller exercises. Experience shows that this gives the best learning curve.
o   SOLAS regulation V/7-3 requires periodic exercises between passenger ships on international voyages and SAR services.
o   Agreed aims and objectives should drive any exercise or drill. Exercise format, scenario, players and outcomes will be determined by, and will depend upon, a clear understanding of the aims and objectives set.
o   The functions of exercise controller, directors, umpires, observers and players should be understood by all participants.
o   In live exercises it must be clearly established that safety is paramount, and that responsibility for it remains with the participants themselves. A risk assessment should be conducted and appropriate health and safety measures identified. Umpires monitor safety and should intervene if necessary; but they do not assume others' responsibilities.
o   Clear exercise orders are required before the event and should be understood by all participants; and a full report should be prepared and disseminated afterwards.

13 Further Reading

13 Further Reading

13.1 For further reading on training for mass rescue operations, exercises or drills, and learning from experience, follow this link

13.2 The IAMSAR Manual provides guidance on exercises, particularly at Volume II chapter 6.15.11-13 and appendix C.

13.3 MSC Circular 1079, 'Guidelines for preparing plans for cooperation between search and rescue services and passenger ships', contains guidance on the exercises required under SOLAS regulation V/7-3.

ANNEX 1

ANNEX 1

 

Exercise Orders and Reports

The following are suggested headings for exercise orders, to be distributed to all participants, and exercise reports. Exercise orders should include:

  the exercise title
  the type of exercise – for example, 'live', 'tabletop', etc
  location(s)
  date and start time, with planned duration
  participants – a list of all participating organisations and units
  It is as important for players to know which units not part of the exercise as it is to know which are.
  the aim(s) of the exercise – as agreed by the planning group
  participating organisations' objectives
  scenario – the 'story' of the incident which requires an MRO
  The circulation of the scenario section of the exercise orders can be restricted so that the players will not know what they will be asked to respond to, even if they are aware that an exercise will be held.
  conduct of the exercise – how the exercise will work, including preliminary briefing arrangements and any limitations, and the roles of the controller, directors and observers
  communications – which systems, frequencies, numbers etc are in use for exercise purposes, and procedural words to be used to indicate that this is an exercise communication
  It is particularly important that any live radio transmissions include a clear indication that this is an exercise, not a real emergency. Transmissions can be prefixed with 'For exercise', for example.
  safety – general safety provisions and the role of the umpires
  exercise start – how the participants will be advised that the exercise is beginning (if not obvious)
  termination or suspension of the exercise – how the participants will be advised that the exercise is over or if it needs to be temporarily suspended; because of a real emergency, for example
  news media arrangements – how the media will participate, as players or to report on the exercise itself
  post-exercise meetings and reports – where and when debrief meetings will be held, how participants may contribute to the post-exercise analysis, and how the exercise report will be distributed.

An exercise report should include:

  the exercise title
  the list of participating organisations
  the exercise controller's contact details (to coordinate further correspondence)
  the date, time, type and location of the exercise
  the exercise aims
  participating organisations' objectives
  a brief summary of events
  debrief arrangements
  a summary of results
  lessons learned, with particular reference to the exercise aims and objectives
  recommendations
  responses to recommendations, if available
    annexes:   the original exercise orders
        logs, chartlets, etc
        participants' own reports (if approved for general distribution).

ANNEX 1

ANNEX 2

 

Core MRO Exercise Components

This list has been kindly provided by Mr Rick Janelle, of the United States Coast Guard.

The following are basic MRO plan core components that may be selected for inclusion in a full scale or functional exercise. While not all of these components will be selected, the exercise design team and plan holders will identify those that are applicable.


Notifications

Demonstrate the ability to activate and document the notification procedures identified in the MRO plans being exercised and/or required by organization-specific procedures


Communications  

Test communication links needed for notification / coordination / support


Internal Communication

Demonstrate the ability to

  establish an effective internal communications system: this encompasses communications between the Rescue Coordination Center, deployed on-scene assets, Incident Command Post, and industry and state Emergency Operations Centers
  identify and effectively share critical information
  develop / share a common operational picture at each operational location
  dispatch and employ liaison officers to improve the flow of communications


Demonstrate the communications interoperability of local responders: fire, police, medical, regional, national, international, etc


External Communication

Demonstrate the ability to

  request and receive SAR Plans of Cooperation from the SAR Data Provider
 

See IMO's MSC Circular 1079.

  establish communications with organizations external to the response organization
  satisfy the briefing demands of senior management
  develop and release situation reports in a format understood by all involved agencies
  manage news media demands
  notify, manage, and assist the large number of families and friends of passengers and crew
  effectively deliver and manage information to evacuees
  utilize technology (websites etc) to support high demands for information

Response Mobilization and Management

Demonstrate the ability to

  provide an accurate initial assessment of the incident
  activate the MRO response plans immediately
  assemble the response organization identified in the plans being exercised
  activate additional staff to augment or sustain the necessary staffing levels
  establish incident facilities to support the response

Unified Command

Demonstrate the ability to

  assess the situation and develop an effective response organization structure to meet the demands
  quickly develop and communicate joint response priorities, objectives, and tasks
  develop and implement incident action plans that include the following MRO-specific items:
   
  coordinated on-scene response organization to support the distressed vessel's master
   
  transit planning for rescue boats to transport evacuees to shore
   
  safety of evacuees and responders
   
  security measures required by the incident
   
  law enforcement measures required by the incident
   
  an effective evacuee accountability process
   
  identification, activation and management of adequate landing site(s)
   
  transportation planning to move evacuees to reception centers
   
  activation, management and support of emergency medical services
   
  identification, activation and management of adequate reception center(s) for the number of evacuee anticipated
   
  as required, longer-term shoreside support for evacuees: accommodation, medical, etc
   
  final transportation planning to return evacuees home

Operations

Demonstrate the ability to

  quickly identify, acquire, and task local response resources
  organize, coordinate and direct operations related to the implementation of action plans approved by the unified command
  provide continuing assessments on the effectiveness of the tactical operations
  coordinate emergency medical services and medical support with local hospitals
  direct / support the On Scene Coordinator (OSC)
  establish, secure, and direct operations at designed landing sites
  assemble and deploy salvage resources required by action plans
  assemble and deploy firefighting resources required by action plans
  assemble and deploy pollution response resources required by action plans

Planning

Demonstrate the ability to

  develop short-range tactical plans based on unified command objectives for the operation
  consolidate the various concerns and priorities of members of the unified command into joint planning recommendations and specific long-range strategic plans

Logistics

Demonstrate the ability to

  provide the necessary support to both the short-term and long-term incident action plans
  provide effective land transportation for all elements of the response
  provide effective water transportation for all elements of the response
  provide effective air transportation for all elements of the response
  provide care, assistance and support for evacuees until returned home, including shelter, food, medical and further transportation needs

Finance

Demonstrate the ability to

  document the daily expenditures of the organization and provide cost estimates for continuing operations
  establish an effective procurement system

Public Affairs

Demonstrate the ability to

  form a joint information process and provide the necessary interface between the unified command and the media to provide the "best" information source
  release timely, clear, accurate and consistent reports to the media
  identify spokespersons to speak to the media, families, etc
  establish a Joint Information Center

Safety Affairs

Demonstrate the ability to

  quickly identify hazards and risks presented by the incident and communicate them to the response organization
  monitor all field operations and ensure compliance with safety standards

Documentation

Demonstrate the ability to document operational and support aspects of the response and provide records of decisions and actions taken.


On Scene Coordinator

Demonstrate the ability of the OSC to

  effectively communicate with the distressed vessel's master to support on-board emergency response and manage on-scene rescue assets
  manage and track survival and rescue craft, including empty craft
  accurately track evacuee numbers and communicate to responders ashore
  provide critical information to the unified command ashore

Demonstrate the ability to transfer OSC duties and to communicate the change to the response organization.


Evacuee Accounting

Demonstrate the ability to

  quickly obtain an accurate manifest of all persons on board; passengers, crew, and others
  safely transfer and care for evacuees in survival or rescue craft
  identify, track and account for all evacuees at each stage of the operation
  identify handicapped or special need evacuees and plan for their safe evacuation and transfer
  communicate accounting information effectively between organizations

Landing Site Management

Demonstrate the ability to

  identify suitable landing sites and communicate to response organization
  activate and secure designed landing sites, including the ability to
      cordon off the landing site for entry of authorized personnel only
      land the evacuees (uninjured, injured, handicapped) safely at the landing site, taking into consideration the difference in height of the seawall etc and the rescue craft's freeboard
      provide sufficient lighting at the landing site when the operation is carried out at night
      clearly mark those areas designated for triage points and for resting patients
      regulate road traffic in the vicinity of the landing site for the purpose of effective transfer of patients to hospitals or reception centres
  integrate medical services into the landing site operations
  marshal the news media so as not to undermine the efficiency of the landing site operations.

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5.1 General Guidance on MRO Training

Written by David Jardine-Smith. Posted in Train, Test & Learn

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Contents

Contents

This paper discusses:

o   the place of training in MRO preparations
o   IMO's guidance on SAR training, and MRO training in particular
o   who should receive training and how much training they should receive
o   the value of joint training

1 Overview

1 Overview

1.1 For a general introduction to the IMRF's mass rescue operations (MRO) guidance, please see MRO guidance paper 1.1 'Complex incident planning – the challenge: acknowledging the problem, and mass rescue incident types'.

1.2 The guidance in this section relates to training in MRO plans, exercising them, and learning lessons from incident and exercise experience. Guidance papers 5.3, 5.4 & 5.5 refer to exercises, learning, and reporting. Guidance paper 5.2 introduces the IMRF’s MRO workshops, which can form an early part of the planning and training processes and which also form part of the process of disseminating MRO lessons learned. This paper deals with the training process more generally.

2 Plan, Train, Test, Review

2 Plan, Train, Test, Review

2.1 It is a common theme in this guidance series that MROs should be planned for, and that key personnel identified in the plan should be trained for their roles. Both planning and training should be tested by exercises, and will be tested by real incidents: we discuss this in guidance paper 5.3. The results of the tests should then feed back into the process so that it can be improved: see guidance papers 5.4 & 5.5.

2.2 This process is illustrated below.

wheel2

2.3 The planning part of the cycle is discussed in guidance paper 2.1 and other papers in that section. But planning alone is insufficient: people must be trained to various degrees in the implementation of the plan or it will not work. The adequacy of planning and training is then checked and the results, if properly acted upon, will lead to improvements in both planning and training – and the 'hill' of continuous improvement will be climbed!

2.4 Climbing a hill takes determination and effort. Training, like planning and exercising, only happens when organisations want it to happen. Training takes time and resources, both of which cost money.

2.5 It can be harder to justify this expenditure for MRO training when, almost by definition, MROs are rare events. But, as discussed in guidance paper 1.1 , the justification is provided by the high-consequence nature of such events. There may be a plan but if people are not trained in it appropriately it will fail. The consequences of failure for the response organisations and individuals concerned can be enormous – but for the people who are the subject of the MRO they can be fatal.

2.6 Training in MROs is therefore, we argue, essential. But, as discussed further below, it need not be daunting. Only a few individuals will need extensive training; for most a knowledge of their place in the plan will be sufficient. For some, all that is really needed is the knowledge that there is a plan and that the specific tasks they are given at the time will be part of a much larger overall response.

3 IMO Guidance

3 IMO Guidance

3.1 The International Maritime Organization (IMO) makes a great deal of guidance available on training, including SAR training. Most of the SAR training guidance is contained in the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual. This is supported by IMO model courses in SAR administration and on-scene coordination and, for complex incidents in particular, by MSC Circular 1186: 'Guidelines on the training of SAR service personnel working in major incidents' (see below).

3.2 Volume I of the IAMSAR Manual contains extensive guidance in chapter 3, 'Training, qualification, certification and exercises', to which the reader is referred. In general, IAMSAR notes that:

Volume I chapter 3.2.17.

"Since considerable experience and judgement are needed to handle typical SAR situations, necessary skills require significant time to master. Training can be expensive. Poor training is even more expensive and can result in poor operational effectiveness, which can result in loss of lives of SAR personnel, lives of those in distress and loss of valuable facilities. Quality of performance will match the quality of training. [...]

"All SAR specialists need training, in particular the SCs, RCC chiefs, SMCs, OSCs, ACOs and SRUs.

"Operational facilities which need training include RCCs and RSCs, aeronautical units, maritime units, land units [and] specialized units"

'SCs': SAR Coordinators; 'RCCs and RSCs': Rescue Coordination Centres and Sub Centres; 'SMCs': SAR Mission Coordinators; 'OSCs': On Scene Coordinators; 'ACOs': Aircraft Coordinators; 'SRUs': designated SAR Units.

3.3 This is as regards training in general for SAR specialists and designated SAR units. Each of these individuals and their units should have appropriate MRO training in addition, and in the 2016 edition of IAMSAR Volume II the subject will be added to the list of topics recommended for SAR training. IAMSAR also notes that "awareness training is required for those persons infrequently involved in SAR".

Volume I chapter 3.2.17.

3.4 IAMSAR Volume II, chapter 1.2.2, notes that the responsibility to coordinate the provision of this training falls to the SAR Coordinator (see guidance paper 4.2). It also comments on individual SAR service managers' responsibilities at chapter 1.8:

"The head of a SAR service is responsible for establishment of training programmes for SAR personnel to reach and maintain a high level of competence. The head of each facility is responsible for the training of personnel in the specialized techniques and procedures assigned to them, while each individual must assume responsibility to perform competently any assigned task."

3.5 IAMSAR Volume III, the 'Mobile Facilities' volume carried by ships and aircraft on international routes, provides guidance, in section 2, on training for these facilities, and notes as regards training for the masters of ships (usually a vital additional resource in an MRO) that:

"The mandatory minimum requirements for the training of masters of merchant ships in SAR operations are contained in the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers."

4 Guidelines on the Training of SAR Service Personnel Working in Major Incidents

4 Guidelines on the Training of SAR Service Personnel Working in Major Incidents

4.1 In MSC Circular 1186 the IMO provide further advice, focussing on complex incident response. This text notes that:

"Successful interaction and mutual understanding between those who will have to work closely together during a major emergency are of fundamental importance to its being handled successfully. The human element and relevant training for all who may be involved are key factors in this context.

"Major incidents are, fortunately, rare. However, they must be planned and prepared for, and this preparation includes an additional element of training. SAR service personnel are generally used to handling relatively small-scale incidents; but the rarity of major incidents means that they cannot gain the same levels of direct experience in dealing with emergencies on this scale. The need for specific training therefore increases commensurately."

4.2 The Circular discusses what is meant by "SAR service personnel" and "major incidents" – of which MROs are an example – and the training needs that arise. It lists the following "fundamental concerns":

-   the structure and synergy of the wider SAR team which, in a major incident, will include members who are not used to working together as part of the everyday response;
-   the crucial importance of effective communications at all levels;
  See guidance paper 4.9.
-   the additional pressures placed on SAR service personnel during major incidents, and particularly in mass rescue operations;
-   the usefulness of major emergency exercises and simulations; and
-   the usefulness of familiarization visits and exchanges, and joint training initiatives.

4.3 Familiarisation visits and exchanges of personnel are recommended. If RCC staff, for example, do not have personal experience of ship operations, allowing them to gain relevant experience as part of their training will be very beneficial. Placing responders as observers in unfamiliar parts of the operation during an MRO exercise will better enable them to appreciate others' roles, capabilities and limitations.

4.4 MSC Circular 1186 gives the following examples of subject areas to be considered in complex incident training, with a short discussion of the subject in each case:

  recognising the scale of the incident
  survival time
  SAR facility availability
  'working with strangers'
  mutual awareness
  coordination overall
  on-scene coordination
  information, and lack of information
  communications
  language difficulties
  planning and plans
  priorities
  recovery / retrieval of people in distress
  counting those recovered
  dealing with survivors
  dealing with the injured
  dealing with the dead
  places of safety
  news media interest
  friends and families
  logistics
  'politics': who's in charge?
  fatigue
  stress
  training and exercising
  lessons learned

4.5 Most of these items are examined in other guidance papers in this series: see guidance paper 1.1 for an overview. MSC Circular 1186 is recommended reading.

5 Who Should Receive MRO Training, and How Much?

5 Who Should Receive MRO Training, and How Much?

5.1 In guidance paper 1.1 we list those who will be involved generally in an MRO, and in guidance paper 2.1 those who should be involved in MRO planning. A similar list applies when it comes to training. Naturally, in addition to the students listed, expert trainers will also be required.

5.2 The following individuals should be given at least some MRO training, with an indication of its extent in each case:

o   The SAR COORDINATOR (see guidance paper 4.2 ). So as to be able to coordinate the preparations for an MRO, the SAR Coordinator must have an appreciation of the problems associated with such operations and of potential solutions to those problems.
o   The SAR MISSION COORDINATOR (see guidance paper 4.3 ). It may not be necessary to train to MRO standard all staff who fulfil the SMC role in 'ordinary' cases, but enough need extensive MRO coordination training to have an officer ready to take on this very challenging role without delay, and for there to be sufficient reliefs available.
o   The ON SCENE COORDINATOR: as discussed in guidance paper 4.4 , the tasks that can be given to the OSC will depend on his/her training and the resources – communication resources in particular – available to him or her. It is recommended that specific individuals should be trained in the role, alongside the SMC if possible. These individuals should be people likely to be available at the time (ferry masters, for example) or who can be rapidly deployed to the scene. If this level of training is not a practicable possibility, a sliding scale operates. The SMC must delegate tasks as appropriate, based on his or her knowledge of what the appointed OSC can do. Ideally the SMC will know the OSC's capabilities and will be able to delegate appropriately. Failing that, the SMC must judge the OSC's ability and knowledge as best s/he can at the time.
o   The AIRCRAFT COORDINATOR (see guidance paper 4.5 ). This is a specialist role, requiring specialist knowledge of multiple aircraft operations, and should be trained accordingly.
o   Designated SAR UNIT COMMANDERS (see guidance papers 4.6 & 4.7). The more these commanders know of the MRO plan the better, but specific training can be limited to an understanding of what their units' roles are likely to be in an MRO – which, generally speaking, will not be essentially dissimilar to their roles in 'ordinary' emergencies – and of the communications and coordination structure overall.
o   The 'SUB-COORDINATORS' AND COMMUNICATIONS OR LIAISON OFFICERS discussed in guidance papers 4.14.3 4.4 should be trained in their roles. SAR unit commanders can be pre-selected to receive training in on-scene search coordination, for example. Staff who will be deployed to act in the liaison officer role should be trained in the function – which is to act as a communications link, not a decision-maker – and should familiarise themselves with the places they may be deployed to.
o   The SHORESIDE EMERGENCY RESPONSE AUTHORITIES (see guidance papers 2.74.8 and, as regards deployment of specialist support, 3.3). Coordinators of the shoreside response, at the tactical and strategic levels, should have extensive training in major incident response. As regards a maritime MRO, they should have an understanding of how the maritime part of the operation will be coordinated (at the sea / land interface in particular), the overall communications and coordination structure, and the particular challenges inherent in maritime SAR.
o   Where SPECIALIST SUPPORT is to be deployed – firefighting, medical or damage control teams, for example – specific formal training in these roles is essential. This should include an understanding of the overall structure.
o   The COMMANDERS OF SHORESIDE RESPONSE UNITS, like those of designated SAR units, should understand their units' roles and, again, the communications and coordination structure overall.
o   The COMMANDERS OF 'ADDITIONAL FACILITIES' such as ships at or near the scene of the incident will only have had very general, and possibly very limited, SAR training. Their 'training' in an MRO is likely to be limited to being told that there is a plan and what their own particular part in it will be.
o   The COMMANDERS and OPERATORS of potential casualty vessels, aircraft, offshore installations, etc. As discussed in guidance paper 2.1 , these people should be included in the planning if practicable, so that they will have an understanding of the support available to them and the way it will be organised. Operators with emergency response plans of their own will need to understand how their plans interlink with others'.

5.3 An MRO is a complex matter. It is more likely to be successful if individual responders understand the 'big picture' and their own place within it. Everyone should be able to 'own' the MRO plan (see guidance paper 1.2), and this implies a measure of training.

5.4 But the training given requires careful and appropriate targeting. Not everyone needs to be trained in everything, and few organisations will have the resource to conduct extensive training beyond the 'need to know' basis. Training needs should be carefully analysed. Some people will need quite extensive formal training, suitably refreshed at intervals, for MROs are rare and individuals will not have many opportunities to practice their skills (although see also guidance paper 5.3, on exercises). Most potential responders, however, need only be generally familiar with the plan as a whole.

5.5 To the accountant who asks why money should be spent at all on training for something that is unlikely to happen, the answer is: 'Precisely!' It is just because MROs are rare that specific training, to the necessary levels, is required. MROs are, by definition, not something that anyone learns about as a matter of routine. (The issue of funding is discussed further in guidance paper 3.4.)

6 Joint Training

6 Joint Training

6.1 One of the challenges faced in an MRO is the fact that responders are likely to be working with people and organisations with whom they are unfamiliar, not having come across them in their usual work. They will be 'working with strangers' as IMO's MSC Circular 1186 puts it.

6.2 There are considerable benefits to be achieved in training together, on a multi-agency basis, especially for those people who may be interacting directly when an MRO occurs. (The same principle applies in exercises conducted primarily for training purposes: see guidance paper 5.3 .) This may be limited to those identified above who need formal training, but all interaction at the training and exercising level will pay dividends if it becomes necessary to put the MRO plan into action. As discussed above, familiarisation exchanges, although less formal, are also very beneficial, particularly for those for whom full training is decided to be unnecessary but who will be in a communications or liaison role in an MRO.

6.3 Particular attention should be given to the training needs of resources identified as means of filling the 'capability gap' (see guidance paper 1.4). As discussed in guidance paper 3.1, some potential additional SAR facilities can be identified beforehand: ships that trade in a particular area, for example. Seminars and familiarisation exchanges will help build such units into the response team. (Officers pre-selected for OSC work should have rather more formal training, as discussed above.)

6.4 Similarly, when it is agreed that resources can be shared regionally in the event of an MRO (see guidance paper 3.2), some training on how this agreement is to be implemented will be required. As for the deployment of specialist resources to support the casualty unit so that evacuation can be facilitated or avoided, and/or to support survivors on scene or during their transfer to places of safety (see guidance paper 3.3 ), formal training in these activities is essential, as noted above.

7 Summary

7 Summary

o   Training is an essential part of the 'plan, train, test, review' cycle of continuous improvement.
o   Expenditure on MRO training is justified by the high-consequence nature of such events.
o   An MRO is more likely to be successful if individual responders understand the 'big picture' and their own place within it – but only a relatively few individuals, discussed above, will need extensive training. For most a knowledge of their place in the plan will be sufficient. The training given requires careful and appropriate targeting.
o   The IMO guidance on training, particularly in the IAMSAR Manual and MSC Circular 1186, should be considered, together with the list of responders discussed in this guidance paper.
o   The SAR Coordinator is responsible for ensuring that necessary MRO training is arranged, and the relevant SAR managers are responsible for ensuring that it is carried out.
o   Successful interaction and mutual understanding between those who will have to work closely together during a major emergency are of fundamental importance to its being handled successfully.
o   Familiarisation visits and exchanges of personnel during exercises are recommended, and there are considerable benefits to be achieved in training together, on a multi-agency basis, especially for those people who may be interacting directly when an MRO occurs.

8 Further Reading

8 Further Reading

8.1 For further reading on training for mass rescue operations, exercises or drills, and learning from experience, follow this link.

8.2 The IAMSAR Manual provides advice on SAR training, in particular Volume I chapter 3; Volume II chapter 1.2.2, 1.8.1-3 & 1.8.12-16; and Volume III section 2. The IMO also offer model courses, including on SAR administration and the On Scene Coordinator. A full list of IMO's model courses, together with other publications and documents, may be found on the IMRF website.

8.3 IMO's MSC Circular 1186 sets out guidelines on the training of SAR service personnel working in major incidents; and the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers provides the standard for seafarer training.

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