Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Paramedical Science by Research

School

School of Medical and Health Sciences

First Advisor

Professor Russell Jones

Second Advisor

Superintendent Rick Curtis

Abstract

Firefighting is an inherently dangerous occupation involving numerous risk sources, unique contexts, multiple personnel and rapidly changing environments. Firefighting operations are dynamic in nature yet require calculated risk taking and structured command to prevent the realisation of potentially catastrophic outcomes to both casualties and rescuers. The notion of “dynamic risk management” is a term that has gained popularity throughout fire services worldwide, yet the process of dynamic risk management is typically poorly articulated. This study demonstrates ‘dynamic risk management’ is a misnomer, with risk management being a defined process applied within the context of dynamic emergency response. Failure to recognise this and respond accordingly may leave fire services exposed to adverse findings should adverse consequences be realised. Further, this study tested the perceptions of risk held by incident controllers in the Department of Fire and Emergency Services in Western Australia against AS31000, through a combination of qualitative surveys and subsequent Bayesian analysis of reported adverse outcomes resulting from all hazards emergency response. This study found significant variance in risk tolerance between incident controllers and to a lesser degree, variance in the understanding of risk as defined by AS31000. Bayesian statistical analysis identified reportable adverse outcomes were almost certain to occur across the majority of firefighting activities, whilst potential worst case outcomes were rarely historically realised. The results of this study demonstrate that it is critical for firefighting organisations to have documented risk thresholds and to provide greater education of risk management in dynamic situations to incident controllers of all ranks.

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