It goes without saying that crises involving nuclear materials can have devastating consequences. Is your team equipped with the right tools to handle the situation effectively?
The sheer scale of nuclear incident management is staggering. The communication chain involves, but isn’t limited to:
- Site Emergency Control Centre (SECC)
- Central Emergency Support Centre (CESC)
- Strategic Coordinating Centre (SCC)
- Strategic Coordinating Group (SCG)
- Scientific and Technical Advice Cell (STAC)
- Recovery Working Group (RWG)
- Strategic Media Advisory Cell (SMAC)
- Media Briefing Centre
- Forward Media Briefing Point
- Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR)
- Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)
- Departmental and Agency Response Centres
- News Coordination Centre (NCC)
It’s plain to see how, without the right planning, approach, and crisis management software, handling a nuclear crisis successfully and compliantly would be nigh on impossible.
Thankfully, software platforms like CIM can empower responders to effectively and collaboratively manage nuclear crises through one centralised system, all while remaining compliant with UK government and ONR guidelines.
Managing the On-site Response
First and foremost, correctly managing the on-site response to an incident involving nuclear materials is paramount. The UK government’s Nuclear Emergency Planning and Response Guidance report defines on-site response as:
“The decisions and actions taken to deal with the immediate effects of an emergency. It is the decisions and actions taken in accordance with strategic, tactical and operational objectives defined by the emergency responders.”
However, response encompasses much more than just dealing with the immediate effects of an incident – like firefighting and controlling radiation. You need to begin thinking about how you’ll handle the indirect effects of the situation too, such as mass-media interest, agricultural issues, and environmental damage.
The on-site response is only likely to last a short period of time, a few days at most. It’s imperative, then, that you act quickly. To keep your team coordinated and working efficiently, they'll need a centralised source of information they can rely on to receive up to date information and tasks concerning the incident. This should covers the likes of media management, incident logging, warning and informing through mass notification, and so on.
It's preferable that this system features custom dashboards for each role in your response team, displaying only the data pertinent to their responsibilities. For example, your media and communications team could have access to external news feeds so they’re best-prepared for handling public relations.
Understandably, pressure and tensions run high during a nuclear crisis. Utilising a platform to keep your team up to date with only the information relevant to them will help ease this pressure and let them focus on completing individual tasks to the best of their ability.
Collecting, Interpreting, and Sending Site Data to Relevant Authorities
After the on-site response has been completed, the next step of compliant nuclear emergency management is collecting site data and delivering it to the relevant authorities, such as the COBR and national emergency management structures. The data that needs collating includes:
- Radiological information
- Plant conditions
- Radiation monitoring results
- Environmental monitoring results
- Public health data
- Hazard assessments
The sheer volume of data that needs gathering can be overwhelming. However, having one unified place to store, interpret, and share this information can dramatically streamline the process.
Platforms like CIM can offer a variety of different capabilities to mange the abundance of information. The ability to log, report and disperse information is key.
Information boards will allow your organisation to see an up-to-the-minute overview of all data input into the system so far. Displaying these boards on digital screens in your crisis control centre, for instance, will ensure the whole team is aware of what data has been collected and what data is still needed.
Report modules let you create custom forms for collecting incident data. Once captured, these data reports can then be categorised, shared with authorised team members, and sent on to the authorities.
Log functionality will keep detailed records of every decision made, action taken, and message sent and received during the on-site response. This lets your team and the relevant authorities drill down and understand exactly what’s happened during the incident.
Liaising with Emergency Services
Whether it’s the ambulance service or firefighters, keeping in close contact with the emergency services is critical to ensuring the safety of plant employees and limiting environmental damage. This link can only be established if your communications – including their contents and delivery method – have been sufficiently prepared before the incident occurs.
To aid in this, your management platform should allow you to set pre-defined notifications that can be dispatched either automatically when certain events occur or on an ad hoc basis – across whichever channel is most suitable. These channels should include SMS, voice, email, and push notifications – ensuring your communications reach the right people, in the right way, at the right time.
Communicating with Key Groups (SCC/ SCG/ STAC)
It’s not just the emergency services you need to stay in contact with. As mentioned in the introduction, there are many other key groups you need to keep informed during a nuclear incident, like the SCC, SCG, and STAC.
Meeting functions will let you organise practically any type of forum you require. They should let you schedule, structure, and monitor your crisis meetings, allowing you to contact key groups with ease. All activity should then be logged for debrief meetings.
Making use of darksites can be is particularly helpful. They draw attention away from your main website and give you a platform to inform the public and wider media about the facts of the situation through press releases, holding statements, and general updates. The best crisis management platforms will even let you configure your darksite to look and feel similar to your main website.
It goes without saying that managing a nuclear incident successfully is no small task. To remain compliant with ONR regulation, you must effectively manage your on-site response, collect all relevant data, and ensure your communication strategy is airtight. Now you know that managing all this can be easier and more efficient, book a demo of CIM today to see the program in action for yourself.