NSW State Emergency Service

THE CHALLENGE

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) is the lead combat agency responsible for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Flood Emergency Sub-Plan. The NSW SES had previously conducted exercises to assure its capability for dealing with the Hawkesbury-Nepean flood risk. As of June 2014, those exercises were considered dated and no longer meet the demands of the complex environment. To ensure personnel and volunteers were prepared for future operations, the NSW SES engaged Noetic to design, conduct and evaluate a state level, multi-agency desktop exercise.

WHAT NOETIC DID

Noetic conducted a range of stakeholder interviews and research activities to inform the development of key exercise documents. Noetic produced a significant flood event scenario in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region which impacted multiple communities and required a large scale evacuation.

Noetic then facilitated the discussion exercise while running a parallel strategic discussion with senior stakeholders (Assistant Commissioner, Chief Executive Officer etc.). Facilitating the exercises in tandem allowed senior leaders to observe the operational/tactical level discussion and provided an overview of what were the critical activities (activation, delegation etc.). Noetic facilitated the exercises using a variety of techniques to immerse the participants in the activity, including background presentations, group work, group feedback, plenary discussions and a series of video clips to support the scenario.

THE BENEFITS

The exercise achieved its aim and objectives. It provided a forum in which participants could renew and strengthen relationships and validate communication paths. Exercise participants discussed the interdependencies that exist between the NSW SES, other combat agencies (e.g. Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Ambulance Service) and the functional areas who contribute to response and recovery operations. The impact of a major flood event was evaluated and participants were able to develop a deeper understanding of the impacts on their capability to contribute to a complex and sustained emergency response that is of itself part of a much larger state wide emergency.