NSW bushfire season – starting earlier and lasting longer
- NSW Rural Fire Service declared the earliest total fire ban in history on 15 August 2018.
- NSW fire crews battled at least 83 fires across the state, prompting authorities to take the unusual step of declaring fire bans in Sydney, the Illawarra and the Hunter regions.
- The RFS usually have 6 month break from bushfires between April & September but this year there were only 3 months between seasons.
Bushfire Outlook for October – December 2018
- In August 2018, the NSW Government declared the entire state to be in drought with almost one quarter as being in ’intense drought’.
- The map on left indicates drought conditions in NSW: Red – ‘intense drought’, orange – ‘drought‘, other areas – ‘drought affected’.
- A drier and warmer than average Spring is predicted which will likely intensify drought conditions and increase bushfire potential across parts of eastern Australia.
- Organisations should have an emergency management process in place to quickly identify staff and/or other stakeholders particularly vulnerable to the effects of bushfires e.g. those living or travelling in high risk areas.
- A method for tracking staff work travel plans should be established e.g. to identify those working or travelling remotely or in bushfire prone areas.
- Consider use of a mass communication tool to communicate with staff and perform welfare checks. Ensure contact details for staff remain accurate and can be appropriately accessible.
- Encourage staff to actively check alerts and information from the Bureau of Meteorology , NSW State Emergency Service and NSW Rural Fire Service and respond accordingly.
- Encourage staff to develop a personal bushfire survival plan and prepare a fire ready kit.
Public Transport Outages in Sydney – August 2018
NSW Transport has seen major public transport outages throughout 2018 – most notable were a string of outages during August:
|Date||Detail of outage|
|Friday 17th, night||Services on the T1 line became delayed for up to an hour due to a metallic balloon entering a tunnel and causing an overhead electricity wire short at Wynyard.|
|Saturday 18th, morning||Services on 29 routes were running up to two hours late due to technical issues which affected communications on passenger information display screens and app updates, network control and crew allocation.|
|Monday 20th, night||A communication issue caused delays to T2, T3 and T8 lines|
|Saturday 25th, afternoon||A signal failure false alarm at Redfern left T1, T2 and T8 lines with major delays.|
|Monday 27th, morning||A broken track at Town Hall caused trains to commence and finish at Central, with disruption to T2, T3 and T8 lines.|
Potential Impacts of Public Transport Disruptions
Public transport outages can have a number of impacts on organisations including:
- an increase in staff absenteeism and decrease in punctuality potentially impacting business as usual operations.
- the inability of staff to attend offsite meetings and other commitments if relying on public transport.
- a decrease in transport accessibility for staff requiring additional mobility assistance.
- the inability of staff to travel to alternate sites, if required, in a larger scale incident.
- an increase in road use and traffic congestion which could impact Emergency Services’ ability to attend an incident, if required.
Responding as an Organisation
Preparing for, and responding to transportation disruptions can minimise the impacts to organisations. Activities should include:
- encouraging staff to use transportnsw.info to monitor travel alerts and trackwork for their mode of public transport.
- disseminating information on pre-planned transport strikes or service delivery notices to staff.
- ensuring staff have IT access and the ability to work remotely, if/when required.
- developing contingency plans for critical business functions which cannot be completed remotely. This could include providing alternate transport options for relevant staff, or identifying appropriate alternate staff to perform the function.
Overseas Events Affecting Australian Travellers
Australians Stranded following Indonesian Earthquakes
- On 8th August, 150 Australians were left stranded on Indonesia’s Gili Islands after deadly earthquakes shook on the previous Sunday. Earthquakes caused widespread damage to infrastructure and significant loss of life, with the risk of more aftershocks.
- An Australian consular official was sent to help the Indonesian navy evacuate the holiday-makers from the three Gili Islands, which could only be reached by boat but this was a slow process.
- Smartraveller.gov.au continues to advise travellers to reconsider the need to travel to Northern Lombok and Gili Islands due to the series of powerful earthquakes in July and August 2018.
Recent Events at Popular Travel Destinations
Between June and September 2018, a large number of significant overseas events occurred directly impacting Australian travellers. The following table details some of these events:
|Osaka, Japan||June 2018||A 6.1 magnitude earthquake rocked Osaka, Japan. Though there were no large-scale destruction or tsunami warnings issued after the quake, commuters were left stranded and 170,800 homes and buildings were left without power, water or gas||5 deaths, 417 injured|
|Athens, Greece||July 2018||Major wildfires raged through the seaside of Greece, with over 1,000 buildings destroyed and/or damaged in the process.||99 deaths, 172 injured|
|Northern Lombok and Gili Islands, Indonesia||August 2018||A string of four earthquakes hit Indonesia, including a 6.9 magnitude tremor. Landslides, damaged roads and collapsed buildings were amongst the destruction, leading to blackouts and many displaced individuals.||430+ deaths, 1300+ injured|
|California, USA||August 2018||A total of 6,153 fires burned through California, including the deadly Mendocino Complex, Holy and Ferguson Fires.||14 deaths, 40+ injured|
|Tokyo, Japan||September 2018||A 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck Tokyo, Japan. The quake was the latest in a string of natural disasters, leaving at least 26 individuals missing at once point and millions of homes without power.||39 deaths, 641 injured|
Impacts to Australian Travellers
- At any one time, there are around one million Australians living and working overseas. Whether travelling for work or personal reasons, Australian travellers may be impacted by local events such as natural disasters, political unrest or terrorist attacks.
- Disruptions may affect travellers’ ability to travel to/from their destinations or carry out their intended activities e.g. meeting with clients or attending industry conferences. It may also affect their ability to communicate with family or their employer.
- Affected travellers may not return to work as expected if they are injured, delayed or otherwise affected by the incident e.g. psychological stress.
Being Proactive for Work and Personal Travel
- Whether travelling for work or personal reasons, staff should be encouraged to take the following steps:
- Workplaces can play an important role in tracking individuals and supporting their safe return if affected by incidents overseas. Organisations should implement a travel management process to monitor staff travel. Travel plans should completed for all work travel and shared with line management and/or HR.
- A travel plan should include the following elements:
- If a staff member does not return to work as expected, consider contacting their emergency or next of kin as soon as possible.
Safe and Healthy Crowded Places — AIDR Handbook 15
- The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) has developed a series of 16 Handbooks to guide organisations on national principles and practices for disaster resilience.
- Handbook 15: Safe and Healthy Crowded Places, which was published in 2018, outlines nationally agreed principles for safe and healthy public places and is intended to provide an overarching framework for risk management, communication and incident and emergency planning.
- The handbook was developed to complement Australia’s Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism which was published in 2017.
- The following figure outlines the chapters in the Safe and Healthy Crowded Places Handbook:
Definition of Crowded Places
- Crowded places are locations easily accessible by large numbers of people.
- Crowded places do not have to be buildings and can include open spaces such as parks and pedestrian malls.
- A crowded place will not necessarily be crowded at all times: crowd densities may vary between day and night, by season, and may be temporary, as in the case of sporting events, festivals, or one-off events.
- The Safe and Healthy Crowded Places Handbook identified three major crowd types:
Chapter 8: First Aid, Ambulance and Medical Services
- Chapter 8 of the Safe and Healthy Crowded Places Handbook outlines health service provision for crowded places including first aid, ambulance and medical services.
- It is expected that during the course of an event, a number of attendees will require a level of care. Some incidents will be able to be managed on-site by first aiders, while others may need ongoing medical attention or even transportation to a local hospital.
- All large events require a number of onsite preparations. This may include first aid posts, an on-site medical centre, mobile teams and/or ambulance services depending on the type and size of the event.
- Other requirements for events are medical equipment, communications systems and documentation, and privacy concerns for those requiring medical attention.
- The Crowded Places Checklists, which accompany the Handbook, provide guidance for assessing first aid, ambulance and medical services provision for emergency management during events.
Developing an Event Health Plan
- Prior to the commencement of a major event, a comprehensive health plan should be developed by the event organisers.
- The characteristics of attendees and expected patient load can be used to determine suitable health service provision including resources, numbers, skills and equipment required. The following aspects should be considered:
- Roles and responsibilities of all medical service providers including first aiders should be defined and documented in the Event Health Plan. If an incident escalates to a major incident (e.g. mass casualty event), state-based ambulance resources will assume the overarching command and control of all on-site medical resources.
- Event planning should also consider access and egress routes for emergency services and include a commitment to mitigate hazards so that timely and appropriate health care is available.
- Once completed, the Event Health Plan should then be shared with all major health and emergency services so that they can take appropriate precautions as required e.g. local hospitals.
Referenced online articles and images used:
- ABC News (8 August 2018)
- ABC News (17 August 2018)
- NSW Rural Fire Service
- The Sydney Morning Herald (15 August 2018)
- ABC News (19 August 2018)
- News.com.au (25 August 2018)
- News.com.au (27 August 2018)
- The Daily Telegraph (18 August 2018)
- The Sydney Morning Herald (20 August 2018)