End User representatives
Emergencies are increasing in complexity, duration, and the number of agencies involved. This is likely to lead to an increasing number of errors being made, breakdowns in teams and degraded operational situations. These problems will play out within the context of a decreasing tolerance in the community and their political representatives. Rather than distributing the blame to individuals we need to acknowledge that errors and breakdowns in emergency management teams will occur, and that it is important to seek and manage them in a mature and systematic way.
The current project has three main research streams that are examining team monitoring, decision making and organisational learning.
Better methods to monitor teams and to detect breakdowns and disconnects that can impair operational performance have been developed under the team monitoring stream. The decision making stream has developed checklists which help people make better decisions in complex situations, through a number of decision making training modules.
The organisational learning stream has identified the barriers to effective research utilisation. A maturity-based organisational learning framework has been created under this stream which has also identified the barriers involved with effective research utilisation.
The Emergency Management Breakdown Aide Memoire and the Team Process Checklist have been developed to assist emergency management teams deal with breakdowns in communication. Click here to use an interactive version of the Emergency Management Breakdown Aide Memoire and the Team Process Checklist.
The Aide Memoire is a checklist that helps to recognise team breakdowns through their outputs (for example, incident action plans) and formal/informal organisational networks. It also offers a five-step practical resolution strategy.
The Team Process Checklist is designed to provide a health check for teams and, if there is a problem, to help determine what that problem is. This tool is designed to assist people to think through three aspects of effective teamwork: communication, coordination and cooperation.
The checklists help emergency managers to strengthen teamwork before, during and after response and recovery efforts. The tools can be used during training, during emergencies, and in after-action reviews, as well as a way to reflect on teamwork during periods of relative calm. They are a flexible way to examine teamwork from many perspectives. Click here to read about the success of the checklists, which were made available in Hazard Note 33.
The checklists are now being used by team members, team leaders, independent observers and external people who have operational oversight (for example, regional coordinators). They have been adopted by the South Australian Country Fire Service, the Tasmania Fire Service and have been used operationally by the NSW State Emergency Service.
End-users have been actively engaged throughout the project, with the human-centered design process placing them at the centre of an iterative cycle of development and testing.
At the beginning of the project the research team visited 18 emergency management agencies in Australia and New Zealand. The purpose of the meetings was to observe real life and simulated emergencies. They identified that team monitoring was often not done effectively and that there was typically little guidance surrounding how to monitor teams within most agencies.
The next stage of the project was to complete a comprehensive literature review that examined how team monitoring is carried out from the position of operational oversight in emergency management and other related high reliability industries.
Five studies were conducted to examine the checklists in real life and simulated operational situations. Feedback was obtained and used to improve the checklists after the studies. A research paper on this feedback and the project more broadly were published in the Australian Journal of Emergency Management. Click here to read that paper.
Two evaluation studies have also been conducted. The participants rated the checklist out of five on: how useful it was in helping them think about how the team performed; how clear the questions were and how comprehensive the checklist was (i.e. the extent to which it identified all the problems and good aspects of teamwork). Overall the checklist was rated a 4.19 on usefulness, 4.34 on clarity and 4.25 on comprehensiveness.
There is increasing pressure on agencies from larger-scale natural hazards, financial constraints and declining volunteer numbers.
The journey towards a mature system for managing safety has previously been imagined as a 'ladder' that organisations need to climb. Our research suggests there are twelve steps on this ladder for an organisation to achieve 'safety redemption'.
This Project aims to provide enhanced ways of:
- Making decisions in complex situations
- Monitoring teams to detect problems
- Learning from operational performance
This project has three main research streams that are:
•Providing enhanced methods of making decisions;
•Developing methods to better monitor and modify the behavior of teams
•Identifying the enablers and barriers to organizational learning
This project has three main research streams that are:
- Providing enhanced methods of making decisions;
- Developing methods to better monitor and modify the behavior of teams
- Identifying the enablers and barriers to organizational learning