Keywords: emergency management, decision making, on-scene commanding, action research, accidents
Emergency management and decision making on accident scenes: taxonomy, models and future research
An effective emergency management is often connected with the goals achieved in the response activities. However, it is not clear as to which subsequent factors contribute to whether the emergency management should be regarded as a success or not. One factor, the on-scene commanding structure, and the on-scene commander in particular, plays an important role in fighting emerging crises. Dynamic decision making at the 'sharp end' presents severe demands on the commanders. This paper reviews research in the area of on-scene commanding, with special attention being paid to models developed to illustrate decision making under uncertainty in emergencies. The paper discusses the applicability of management models on-scene at accidents based on 20 years of experience as the commanding officer of a Norwegian fire department. Some demands to future models are presented. Research in the area of real-time emergency management is difficult from a methodological point of view, due to sudden scenario occurrences, the vast number of variables involved and the apparent uniqueness of each scenario. Consequently, and finally, some ideas on future research designs applied to real-time emergency management are presented.