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The JESIP legacy

28 October, 2014

During the Emergency Services Show the JESIP team ran a number of presentations outlining how the national standard for interoperability had been created and how the JESIP doctrine would be maintained in the future. B-APCO Journal was on hand to report back to B-APCO members.

The JESIP (Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Program) vision of ‘working together, saving lives’ was presented in September 2012, underpinned by the overarching aim of ensuring the blue lights trained and exercised together at all levels of command to better save lives in response to major and/or complex incidents.

The vision and aims led to the development of the JESIP doctrine by 105 police, fire and ambulance services, who provided simple ways of working that could be adopted by all agencies. The five key principles were: co-location; communication; co-ordination; joint understanding of risk; and shared situational awareness.

‘That needs to be the bread and butter, and if we can get every commander to understand that, then what we have achieved is interoperability,’ explained Carl Daniels of the JESIP team (pictured above).


The model for shared situational awareness is the aide de memoire METHANE:

  • Major incident declared?
  • Exact location
  • Type of incident
  • Hazards present or suspected
  • Access – routes that are safe to use
  • Number, type and severity of casualties
  • Emergency services present and those required).

The original JESIP aim had been to train operational tactical commanders in each organisation, but this was soon expanded to include strategic and operational responders. The result was a ‘gold thread of interoperability’ that runs from strategic command to tactical and operational responders, including control rooms.

The delivery of a one-day training course for operational tactical commanders was the largest training programme ever undertaken in the UK. ‘What was unique about that is that we undertook to train trainers to deliver on our behalf rather than have a large central delivery centre that would have cost a lot of money,’ explained Carl.

The only stipulation for the trainers was that they had to adhere to the learning objectives and training materials, as well as ensure that the training was undertaken by a trainer from each blue light to an audience made up of multiagency participants. ‘This was the key to success, starting the interoperability family in the classroom.’

The same training model is today being rolled out to control rooms – and for the first time control room supervisors and managers from all services are spending time together in the same classroom for one day, learning about the interoperability principles.

An open-access website has been created to ensure that JESIP, METHANE and the doctrine are understood by all staff. A commander e-learning module is currently being introduced to support those who have attended the one-day course.

There are currently 540 JESIP trainers across England, Wales, Channel Islands and Northern Ireland, and it is hoped Scotland will be on board soon. Over 10,000 commanders have been through the classroom this year in England and Wales alone, and 16,000 have carried out e-learning modules. ‘Obviously the target is much bigger,’ pointed out Carl.

College of Policing

The success of JESIP has been brought around by strategic buy-in from the three emergency services, as Dawn Adams of the College of Policing (a strategic partner of JESIP) explained. Buy-in at local level had been perceived as important, and JESIP achieved it by working with strategic individuals at local level who could champion the message and ensure its delivery via regular engagement and events at local and regional level.  The comprehensive training packages that had been developed by all three services enabled contextualisation at local level.

JESIP supported trainers during the implementation period, observing local deliveries so that people felt they were on a journey together. Completion rates were monitored, and quality assurance observed at first hand. ‘We also provided an online trainers’ forum for the 540 trainers, which enabled networking and the posting of questions for the community to answer and share experiences. That is working well.’

Going forward, said Dawn, the challenge was to ensure JESIP did not become just another training fad, to be forgotten with the advent of the next big training issue. Consequently, work is being carried out on embedding the doctrine and principles within national training programmes, so that future commanders and supervisors receive that training as part of their standard practices.

National Operational Guidance Programme

Steve Adams presented on how the embedding process outlined by Dawn was happening in practice. Steve is the Program Manager of the National Operational Guidance Programme (NOGP), a partnership between the Local Government Association, CFOA, and London Fire Brigade, which aims to provide operational doctrine for the fire and rescue service.

Set up in 2012, its mission is to replace the 8,000 documents that different government departments have produced over the last 50 years (depending on where ‘fire’ sat), with a new fit-for-purpose catalogue – and one that also embeds all the JESIP principles.

The NOGP is the reaction to the fact that the UK has not implemented policy principles consistently in all local areas across all three services. In practice this has meant that at local level each blue light hasn’t necessarily known who spoke authoritatively across each partner agency. ‘And no single controlling mind has taken a view on which particular areas of practice the emergency services should have a joint approach,' explained Steve.

As the NOGP moves forward and brings on board 50 autonomous fire and rescue services, it is working with JESIP to ensure that what it delivers is in line with other services. Steve has joined the College of Policing Gateway Group Board, looking at authorised professional practice for the police. ‘And that has been working really well. I’m building a strong understanding about the pressures and the needs of the police, and I think the police are building an understanding of the capabilities and needs of the fire service.’ Similar relationships are being built with NARU (National Ambulance Resilience Unit).

The long term vision for the JESIP legacy is joined up policy for both major and every-day incidents. ‘Joined-up policy will lead to compatibility in practice, which leads to more joined-up training. The more the policies are aligned, the more we can train together. And not simply for procurement, but simply to learn each others’ names and foibles, so when we do work together we can do it better.’

Q&A session

Question: Will JESIP solve communications issues during major incidents?

Answer: JESIP is not about technology, it’s about people. But we do understand there is a link there of how people use the technology they are provided with. With that in mind, we are linked in with the future networks that are providing future networks communications solutions, about how we can improve that in the interoperability sense.

Continually improving interoperability through joint organisational learning. What role is there for the Local Resilience Forums? What is joint organisational learning? Why is it needed and how will it work?

Brian Welsh, JESIP (seconded from Merseyside Fire & Rescue) began by explaining why organisational learning was one of the four key areas of the JESIP future, the other three being doctrine, training, testing and exercising. The Pollock Review (Review of Persistent Lessons Identified Relating to Interoperability from Emergencies and Major Incidents since 1986, Dr Kevin Pollock, commissioned by the CO and CCS) had looked at 32 major incident board of enquiries and concluded that the lessons identified from these events were not being learned in terms of sufficient change of policy and practice to prevent repetition.

As a result, a new platform was being created by JESIP to enable all services and local resilience partners to identify lessons and learn from them.

The Civil Contingencies Act 2001 already outlines that Cat 1 responders must collect exercise plans and learn and implement lessons from them – as well as share them – in order to improve local arrangements. ‘What we are doing is grabbing hold of that, putting it in the JESIP transitional legacy, and making sure we do what legislation is asking or telling us to do.’

Three areas have been identified as key for joint organisational learning:

  • practitioners and end users on the incident ground must input lessons identified – a method of identifying these locally is required to feed into a repository
  • we need to act upon what has been identified. So the lessons learned must be analysed in a structured process that shows they are being acted upon
  • once what needs to be done has been identified, it needs to be implemented, monitored and assured. And it needs to be shared across agencies and the wider world.

JESIP is working with CCS and Resilience Direct to work on a resilience platform that can input all relevant data onto a standard model. ‘We will store it, identify the lessons and then push them back onto other organisations, for them to manage locally. And if they manage it locally and do it well, [enable them] to feed back and share it across the forum.’

After explaining some of the minutiae of how the process would work with some of the more challenging issues that may arise, Brian Welsh concluded by stressing that the project was still at its design phase, but a structure would be in place for 2015.

Case study: panel from Lincolnshire emergency services talked about how they implemented JESIP and the difference it made

A significant fire involving 10 fire appliances had taken place in Skegness the week before the presentation, highlighting (fortuitously) how JESIP was making a difference on the ground, as one of the representatives from Lincs Fire & Rescue explained: ‘At the incident there was a real willingness shown by police and EMS colleagues to have a joint agency meeting very early on, which – I know it might sound funny – hadn’t happened in the past. The EMS officer in charge was almost running to us with his hand in the air saying “I’m in charge”.

For that willingness to happen that early on in an incident was really beneficial. The incident was on a caravan park, with asbestos involved. We had a briefing of all three commanders, and everyone was clear on their responsibilities, what the risks and hazards were – but more importantly it allowed us to discuss any gaps in the provision [of resources]. For example, only two police officers were needed to man the cordon but because fire had a number of spare staff at that time in the area, it allowed us to say to the police, “you can concentrate your resources on evacuating the caravans in the plume”. So it was absolutely bang on – those were the types of examples for me that were the result of the JESIP training and programme.’

Wider benefits of the joint training afforded by JESIP have resulted in the commanders throughout the county’s emergency services knowing more about each other: ‘It has removed those barriers and little bits of nervousness that used to be at the scenes and which prevented you from talking to each other. We are seeing now when turning up at a scene, apart from recognising each other from the courses, being happy to work closely together as a single organisation or group. It is a big knock-on benefit.’

To ensure JESIP is embedded, a number of courses are being pencilled in so that new managers coming from lower ranks are acquainted with interoperability. In addition, the LRF Interoperability Working Group is currently adapting and reviewing its written response plans for known locations (eg COMAH sites) to incorporate JESIP terminology and METHANE, as well as co-location principles etc.

The LRF’s Single Management Manual outlines how all the Cat 1 and Cat 2 responders respond to major incidents at strategic and tactical level, and this is to be rewritten to incorporate JESIP principles. Additionally, a formal Incident Review Group is being introduced to review response to major incidents and identify lessons for the future. ‘And the willingness to do that has come from JESIP. We are hoping that it will continue to help us develop over future years too.’

The positive feedback that arose from Lincolnshire’s emergency services left the audience in no doubt as to the benefits that JESIP is already bringing to the blue lights – and it also brought some hope that JESIP’s legacy will not be forgotten any time soon.

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