Deputy Senior Responsible Officer, JESIP
Carl leads the United Kingdom Joint Emergency Service Interoperability Principles (JESIP) team as the Deputy Senior Responsible Officer.
In 2020 he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday Honours list for services to incident response. With nearly a decade of experience in the Multi-agency and cross government arena at the national level, Carl has significant knowledge and understanding of cross agency working, service delivery and design, emergency preparedness and response.
Originally from the Ambulance Sector, Carl has experience at all levels of command from Operational through to Strategic, Commanding the response across a variety of incident types, including flooding, public order and terrorism.
He attained a master’s degree, with merit, in Management from Manchester Metropolitan University Business School in 2009.
Your questions answered.
Tank storage is undoubtedly a high hazard industry – I know none like to think a major incident will happen, but the sector needs to be prepared. Can you please share some the common themes in the lessons from previous incidents and advice on incident response?
Failure to provide adequate and regular training is often a key issue. ensure you provide adequate training and support to individuals and teams, particularly in crisis roles that thankfully will not be needed very often (you need to prevent skills fade).
Lack of testing of equipment like safety switches and valves, often because the process can be complicated, this can also be hindered by complex control panels which are not designed in a way to make them simple to use, especially in an emergency.
Our first objective should be to stop the incident occurring in the first place, no matter how difficult and technical some of the mitigation such as training employees and testing safety procedures may be, it will be worth the effort in the long term.
From your introduction, training seemed to be an area of concern in a number of incident findings, why do you think this is?
Because quite often, organisations haven’t spent the time and resources required to ensure that all personnel are adequately trained to undertake a role that is expected of them.
Remember also that an individual may have a different role in times of an incident, than their day-to-day role, if so they must be trained and afforded the time to practice that role in an exercise.
How can we encourage employees to talk openly about safety issues that they may identify or be aware of, even though they feel there could be potential repercussions for them?
The phrase ‘no blame’ springs to mind & whilst the concept is often well meant, it’s also quite misleading, since no one can truly, from a point of ethics or morality, offer a culture which is blame- free, one where any kind of behaviour can be reported without reprisal.
The issue is when people have deliberately exit from what is acceptable in terms of personal behaviour and professional practice, there exists culpability, so there cannot be ‘no blame’. Unpicking the deliberate, or culpable act from the genuine mistakes is often difficult, especially if the people involved do not feel that there is an open and fair culture at play.
people need to be encouraged to report issues which particularly ones that relate to safety, but they also need to feel supported by an environment of trust, one which has clearly defined lines between what is acceptable and not!
There needs to be a consistent process to decide between whether an act is culpable, or non-culpable. A process such as the culpability or decision tree is such a process that asks a number of questions, each with a simple yes, or no answer. As you work through the questions the degree of culpability will become clear, from deliberate/malicious act through to blameless error. If employees understand the process and it is applied consistently, then they are more likely to highlight issues.