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Ferry Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Jul 8th, 2021

Introduction

This Ferry Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan has been created on behalf of all relevant responding agencies in Qatar. It has been written with the following key areas in mind:

Risks

The primary risk addressed in the proposed plan is the risk of a ferry disaster in the territorial waters of Qatar. Other associated risks considered within the document are:

  1. Poor evacuation capacity of the ferry;
  2. Oil spills resulting from the accident;
  3. Large numbers of injured persons;
  4. Large-scale structural damage to the ferry;
  5. Poor weather conditions;
  6. Damage to the ecosystem.

Problems

The key problems that should be addressed as part of emergency management efforts are:

  1. Health and safety of injured persons;
  2. Ecological damage;
  3. Disruption of regular emergency services operations;
  4. Limited capacity of emergency responders (INFORM country risk profile 2019);
  5. Availability of resources;
  6. Need for investigation and evaluation;
  7. Public response to the incident (Ha 2017);
  8. Disturbance of maritime operations in the area.

Documents

The following documents have been consulted in the creation of this plan:

  1. API Energy 2015, Oceans spill cleanup techniques. Web.
  2. Ha, KM 2017, ‘A lesson learned from the ferry Sewol sinking in South Korea in 2014’, International Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 210-215.
  3. INFORM country risk profile 2019. Web.

Aim Of the Plan

The primary aim of the plan is to provide information and guidance to all agencies, structures, and persons involved in disaster response following a ferry accident in Qatar. As part of emergency preparedness efforts, the plan will be distributed to all relevant persons and teams for information purposes. In an event of a ferry disaster in Qatar, the plan should be consulted and used to clarify the roles and responsibilities of each agency. The plan also aims to provide emergency management services with a full overview of the risks and concerns that need to be taken into account while implementing a disaster response plan. This will help speed up disaster relief efforts and ensure that the actions of each team are appropriate and effective in addressing the existing risks and concerns.

Objectives of the Plan

In order to achieve the main aims of the plan, this document will seek to fulfil the following objectives:

  1. Provide an explanation of the key agencies involved in ferry disaster response in Qatar.
  2. Establish the scope of responsibilities of each agency to avoid role duplication and confusion.
  3. Identify the primary points of contact for each team involved in disaster relief efforts to promote efficient communication.
  4. Determine the mechanism triggering an emergency response during a ferry disaster to allow for a quick response to the event.
  5. Define the role of the media and propose a plan for informing citizens of the emergency response efforts through various media outlets.
  6. Explain the priority of each step in emergency management.
  7. Assist emergency services in addressing risks in order to ensure the safety of people in Qatar.
  8. Help first responders to reach the scene promptly and maintain access to hospitals and other emergency facilities throughout the first response effort.

Scope of the Plan

The plan covers all the key areas of disaster response planning, execution, and follow-up evaluation. The plan defines the key authorities and agencies involved to determine their roles in all stages of the process. The plan acknowledges that disaster response involves not just the tactical operations performed by emergency services, but a wider scope of activities designed to prepare for successful mitigation of disasters. Due to the location and infrastructure of Qatar, there are multiple concerns associated with ferry disasters, including, for example, the transfer of injured persons to medical facilities. The plan covers all of the areas mentioned here and serves as a comprehensive guideline for providing emergency services during a ferry disaster.

Authority to Activate the Plan

The person(s) with the authority to activate this plan are as follows

  1. The Emir of the State of Qatar
  2. The Prime Minister of the State of Qatar
  3. The Head of government for the locality where the incident takes place (e.g., the Governor)

The persons with whom they must consult with before activating the plan are

  1. The Head of Emergency Response Services of the State of Qatar
  2. The Prime Minister of the State of Qatar or The Emir of the State of Qatar

The persons with whom they may consult with before activating the plan are

  1. The Head of the Coast Guard
  2. The Head of the Civil Defence Service
  3. The Head of Emergency Medical Services
  4. The Head of Police

Trigger Points

The present plan shall be triggered by any incident involving a ferry sinking in the territorial waters of Qatar. For the purpose of emergency response planning, a ferry is defined as a seaborne vehicle carrying passengers, regardless of whether it is owned and operated by a private company or by a public government department. The plan applies to all ferry disasters requiring evacuation of people and emergency response services, regardless of whether the reason is:

  1. Incorrect operation of the vehicle by the crew;
  2. Intentional or unintentional damage to the vehicle;
  3. Overloading of the ferry beyond its regular capacity;
  4. A terror attack using explosive devices;
  5. Poor weather conditions (e.g., a storm), leading to external damage or partial sinking;
  6. A collision of two or more seaborne vehicles causing substantial damage;
  7. Any other cause not specified above.

Notification of Plan Activation

The first point of contact for the crew of the ship is the Coastal Guard Service of Qatar. Once the Coastal Guard Service receives a notification about an incident, the agency will take the steps necessary to activate the plan. The Head of the local Coastal Guard Service should contact any person who has the authority to activate the plan immediately to ensure that there are no delays. Once the Executive Order to activate the plan is given, all the agencies involved in disaster response shall be notified.

Each person who receives the information is responsible for notifying teams and employees involved in emergency response execution. The leader of the local police services is responsible for despatching the notification to all units in the area. Thus, the notification of the plan activation should be carried out from the top down, which will help to ensure that all available emergency response units arrive at the scene quickly.

Roles and Responsibilities

Local Government is responsible for

  1. Notifying the emergency services of the disaster;
  2. Providing informational support to agencies by ensuring access to maps and other documents used in emergency response operations;
  3. Coordinating the activities of the emergency services in the area;
  4. Passing on current information and status reports to official news outlets;
  5. Participating in a disaster response evaluation following the incident.

The Coastal Guard Services are responsible for

  1. Notifying the key decision-making authorities about the incident to trigger plan activation;
  2. Arriving at the scene first to assess the damage and evaluate the scope of services needed;
  3. Arranging the evacuation of survivors from the ferry to land throughout the emergency response;
  4. Providing assistance with the retrieval of bodies after the initial response is finished;
  5. Assessing and mitigating relevant risks to the territorial waters of Qatar, such as an oil spill;
  6. Taking part in all training activities;
  7. Participating in a disaster response evaluation following the incident.

The Emergency Medical Services are responsible for

  1. Arriving at the scene within 15 minutes from receiving notification of the incident;
  2. Arranging medical first aid on-site for survivors evacuated from the ferry to evaluate injuries and manage critical issues;
  3. Transporting injured persons to the nearest available medical facility for further examination and treatment;
  4. Organizing regular services in a way that would allow at least two teams with ambulances to remain on site throughout the response;
  5. Participating in training exercises and post-response evaluation.

The Traffic Control Department of Qatar is responsible for

  1. Ensuring adequate access to the site of the incident for all emergency services vehicles;
  2. Controlling traffic in the area to allow quick access to nearby medical facilities;
  3. Aiding in the transportation of survivors to medical institutions when ambulances are not available;
  4. Operating on-site throughout the procedure to ensure that first responders’ vehicles do not obstruct the transportation of victims to medical facilities.

The Civil Defence Service of Qatar is responsible for

  1. Aiding the Coastal Guard Services in assessing and mitigating immediate risks (e.g. fire on the ferry and ignition of spilled oil);
  2. Supporting the Coastal Guard Services in evacuating survivors to speed up the process, thus reducing the number of victims;
  3. Providing vehicles for emergency transportation of survivors to nearby hospitals in case the number of ambulances is insufficient;
  4. Participating in training exercises and follow-up evaluation of disaster response.

The Internal Security Force of Qatar is responsible for

  1. Acting as a second line of support to the primary agencies involved in response activities;
  2. Determining the needs of the agencies participating in the response and fulfilling their role in regular local operations (e.g., fire fighting, traffic control, and security).

The Police Service of Qatar is responsible for

  1. Securing the area from persons and agencies not involved in disaster response, such as the media and members of the public;
  2. Providing updates on the status of emergency response procedures to the local government, as well as to civilians through social media or mass media statements;
  3. Carrying out a full investigation of the incident after the first response is finished;
  4. Ensuring the security of hospitals and institutions where survivors of the incident are taken;
  5. Participating in training and evaluation exercises before and after the incident.

Management Groups

Based on the evaluation of the roles and responsibilities of each agency involved in emergency response operations, there are seven key management groups:

The Evacuation Management Group

The evacuation management group includes the Civil Defence and the Coastal Guard Services and provides services for evacuating survivors from the ferry to the coast where they will be given assistance and care by other first responders. The goal of this group is to ensure fast and efficient evacuation of all survivors in order to reduce the number of deaths.

The Medical Assistance Management Group

This group of respondents involves primarily the Emergency Medical Services. The members of EMS will arrive at the scene quickly to provide first aid to survivors evacuated from the ferry and arrange their transportation to a nearby facility for further treatment. This group is also tasked with evaluating the health and injuries of each survivor to determine the need for hospitalization. Persons who do not require hospitalization should be given treatment on-site to avoid hospital overcrowding in the area.

The Risk Management Group

Apart from evacuating and rescuing survivors, it is also essential to address any other associated risks, for example, an oil spill. The risk management group consists of the Coastal Guard and the Civil Defence Services. These agencies will need to perform an immediate risk assessment upon arrival at the scene. Priority risks are defined as additional circumstances that could increase the number of deaths as a result of the incident or cause serious damage to the affected local area, both at sea and on land. If there are other priority risks besides evacuation, a separate team should be formed to mitigate them. If there are no priority risks, the threats identified as part of the risk assessment should be addressed after the first response is finished.

The Security Management Group

This group of responders consists of police officers working at the scene. As the incident is likely to draw the attention of news reporters and the general public, it is essential for the police to secure the area from those not involved in the disaster response. A small number of police officers should also be dispatched to hospitals receiving injured people, as these facilities are likely to be targeted by reporters wanting to gather first-hand accounts of the incident.

The Transportation Management Group

Transportation management is an essential part of disaster response since it is crucial to ensure access to the site of the incident and nearby medical facilities. Since access can be disrupted by heavy traffic, the primary agency in this group is the Traffic Control Department. Officers of the department need to determine the best routes for accessing each medical facility and ensure that ambulances can use these routes without obstacles.

The Information Management Group

Keeping the public informed about the event and emergency response procedures is a critical task as this will help to avoid panic and prevent fake news. There are two agencies that will be responsible for information management. The local government will provide official information and status reports on the incident. In addition, the police will provide statements to news reporters working at the scene and share updates with the public via social media.

The Investigation Management Group

Once the initial response to the ferry disaster is carried out, an investigation group should be formed to determine the causes of the event and any responsible persons. Although the primary agency in this group is the police, the group should also receive support from other responders, as required.

Control Points

An emergency control point is defined as the location where emergency response management takes place. Given the fact that the vast majority of Qatar’s territory is surrounded by the Persian Gulf, it would be beneficial to have several options for control points. The present plan proposes to set the key Coast Guard Services Offices at two possible control points (Figure 1). One of these points could be chosen as the location of emergency management operations.

Proposed control points for emergency management operations.
Figure 1. Proposed control points for emergency management operations.

Resources

The resources required for implementing the proposed plan are as follows:

  1. Ambulances, fully staffed with paramedics and medical equipment;
  2. Fire fighting vehicles and equipment (at least 5 units);
  3. Coast Guard Services boats (10 or more units);
  4. Evacuation equipment, including life vests;
  5. Heating equipment and blankets to treat survivors with hypothermia;
  6. Communication tools, such as portable transmitters and operating mobile phones (at least 20 units);
  7. Movable fences or traffic cones to secure the site of the emergency response;
  8. Equipment used to treat oil spills, including dispersants, booms, and sorbents;
  9. Diving apparatus to reach survivors and victims (at least 10 units).

Maps and Site Plans

Due to the large area of a potential incident, obtaining maps and site plans should be part of the immediate emergency response as soon as the exact location of the incident has been determined. Coast Guard Services should prepare the necessary documents in advance and ensure that they are stored safely at the two proposed emergency control points. It will also be necessary to equip first responders taking part in the evacuation efforts with copies of the maps to ensure that they can reach the site quickly.

Action Checklists

Every management group involved in the emergency response is expected to create a separate action checklist to include their key operations and objectives. The general action checklist for all emergency management personnel responding to the incident includes the following steps:

  1. Activate the plan upon receiving an Executive Order;
  2. Choose the nearest control point and establish a central operations centre;
  3. Arrive at the scene and secure the perimeter along the coast to carry out emergency services;
  4. Assess and prioritize the risks from primary to non-urgent;
  5. Evacuate the survivors from the water and provide medical services;
  6. Provide transportation access to and from the scene using traffic control;
  7. Supply the local government, the general public, and the media with regular statements and updates on the process;
  8. After the survivors have been evacuated, manage any oil spills using booms or dispersants (API Energy 2015);
  9. Draw up plans for the recovery and investigation processes;
  10. Collect incident accounts from witnesses, survivors, and first responders;
  11. Carry out debriefing and evaluation activities.

Aide-Memoires

Aide-memoires are useful for emergency management as they provide quick access to critical information, such as roles, task allocation, and the sequence of events. In the context of a ferry disaster, the following documents should be prepared and distributed as aide-memoires:

  1. A list of the roles and responsibilities of each agency;
  2. A ferry disaster risk assessment template;
  3. Agency checklists, listing activities provided by each organisation.

In addition, it would be useful to obtain certain documents during the initial response phase, for example, a list of passengers on the ferry. Following the disaster response, aide-memoirs detailing key events of emergency procedures should also be prepared to assist in the evaluation and investigation. Each agency is responsible for preparing and storing aide-memoirs, as well as for distributing them to responder teams or to other authorities.

Stand Down and Debrief Arrangements

The first response procedures are considered to be finished once all immediate risks have been managed successfully. This means that emergency operations should take place until all survivors have been evacuated and additional threats, such as fires and oil spills, have been eliminated. Debriefs should be held in the chosen control point immediately after the stand down to ensure that responders provide a full account of the event and their actions. Emergency managers must debrief all key team leaders in order to prepare a comprehensive account of response procedures.

Recovery

During this stage, the key priorities of emergency services should be ensuring the safety of persons involved in all recovery efforts and averting any further damage to the area caused by the disaster. Based on the present plan, disaster recovery efforts should include the following list of activities:

  1. Retrieval of victims’ bodies from the ferry or the surrounding water;
  2. Removal of the ferry from the water or securing it to prevent damage to the surrounding area and other maritime vehicles;
  3. Collection of material and non-material evidence required for the investigation;
  4. Restoration of normal ship routes and operations in the area;
  5. Assessment and mitigation of the ecological damage resulting from any oil spills.

Training & Testing

In order to ensure that first responders and emergency services have the skills and capacity to respond to a ferry disaster effectively, it is essential to conduct annual training exercises. Training should involve all key activities, including arriving at the scene, evacuating survivors, providing first aid, arranging transportation to medical facilities, and securing the area. The scale of the training exercises should be sufficient to evaluate the efficiency of emergency services. The results of these exercises should be recorded and submitted for evaluation to determine gaps and areas for improvement. As a minimum, the results should include:

  1. Arrival times of each service;
  2. Risk assessment outcomes;
  3. Evacuation success rate;
  4. Resources utilized by each service division;
  5. Medical transportation time;
  6. Site security gaps.

Auditing, Reviewing & Monitoring

The final stage of the process is evaluating the efficiency of the response and monitoring outcomes of the recovery process. The evaluation report should become the foundation for any revisions to the emergency plan. The following results should be taken into consideration:

  1. Efficiency of initiation and notification procedure;
  2. Arrival times of each service;
  3. Risk mitigation success;
  4. Ecological damage reduction;
  5. Success of evacuation efforts;
  6. Sufficiency of resources, including human resources;
  7. Disruption to regular policing, fire fighting, or emergency medical services in the local area;
  8. Communication with the public and news outlets;
  9. Security of the site, including details of any security breaches;
  10. Adverse health outcomes among survivors that could have been caused by delayed service provision (e.g., hypothermia).

References

API Energy 2015, Oceans spill cleanup techniques. Web.

Ha, KM 2017, ‘A lesson learned from the ferry Sewol sinking in South Korea in 2014’, International Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 210-215.

INFORM country risk profile 2019. Web.

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