Annual Conference of the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management

30 Sep 2019


IPA members Tony and roger at IPCEM confThe conference was held on the 19th June at the Union Jack Club in London. Moderator for the speakers and over 100 participants was IPA member Roger Gomm QPM. The theme for the conference was ‘Reality of Leading in a Crisis’. The Chairperson of the Professional Commission had been invited to participate with the aim of identifying new speakers for IBZ Gimborn, and in return supplying speakers for future ICPEM conferences.

Deborah Higgins, Head of the Cabinet Office EPC, delivered the opening speech on building crisis leadership capability, and how the EPC prepares people to lead in a crisis. Deborah presented a suite of tools which is available on their website https://www.epcresilience.com/services/thought-leading/knowledge-centre/   and free online courses https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/staying-safe for the public.

Professor Karim Brohi, Consultant and Vascular Surgeon at the Royal London Hospital, delivered an eye-opening lecture on leadership during mass casualty events, from a clinical perspective. With the background and experience of the 2005 London Bombings and London Bridge attacks in 2017, he described how the medical emergency staff prioritised on the scene and following this at the emergency ward, by use of flash expert teams. The facts presented were shocking for some of the audience, and for others showed the reality of lifesaving. Within the flash expert teams, leadership is given. The knowledge from these teams is shared with the sports and aviation industries, and is an expertise which is continuously developed.

Daryll Stroud led the London Fire Brigade’s response to the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack in 2017. He openly spoke about the successes and challenges of the day. To keep his focus, he took a step back, logged all information and updated and followed up his teams to engage them into understan

ding the situation. He found it more important to lead his teams, rather than to try fixing the situation.

Andy Wapling, Regional Head of Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response for NHS South-East and South-West Regions, presented the NHS response to the Salisbury Novichok poisonings. On 4 March 2018, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the UK's intelligence services, and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned in Salisbury, England, with a Novichok nerve agent known as A-234. Both survived after extensive medical treatment at hospital. On 30 June 2018, British nationals Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were admitted to hospital, after they had been exposed to the same nerve agent. Dawn died on 8 July.

Andy and the medical team had to ask questions as to: what, when, where, why, how – they managed to solve the initial unknown medical emergency situation and were able to maintain the hospital’s operational capability. This was at first a situation of understanding the unknown unknowns.

ICPEM conf London

Ed Butler, CBE, DSO and Head of Risk Analysis at Pool Re delivered a presentation on an operation to extract hostages in Sierra Leone. He identified lessons in leadership from his military experience in leading, and the importance of knowing the mission, who the stakeholders are, and to define success and failure in a situation where there is no time to reflect while the operation is developing. The hostages were rescued, but he lost one man whose family he himself visited to deliver the news of the loss of their son.

Rob Davis, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Avon Fire & Rescue, shared his experience through his voluntary work with SARAID, a rapid global response team which he was part of in 2004 in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami (around 300,000 lives were lost in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and India), in 2006 in Pakistan where 73,000 people lost their lives in an earthquake, and in Haiti in 2010 after the earthquake where over 220,000 people died.  Rob illustrated strategic, tactical and operational situations, where learning from the international context would advance the UK in their planning and preparedness activities in major emergency situations both nationally or internationally.

Professor Paresh Wankhade, Professor of Leadership and Management and Director of Research at Edge Hill University’s Business School, summarised the conference.  He challenged whether there was a leadership crisis in the blue-light services. He recommended collaboration instead of the current context in the UK, and existing models of leadership. In addition, Professor Wankhade gave examples how to move forward outside dogma, protocols and barriers, based on his research of exploring leadership and the management in the Ambulance, Police and Fire and Rescue Services in UK.

Text: May-Britt Rinaldo Ronnebro, Chairperson Professional Commission

Photos: Sarah Schubert