The project «MAREC- The Inter-organizational coordination of mass rescue operations in complex environments» emphasizes the coordination of emergency response agencies involved in mass rescue operations. The challenge of large-scale emergency response is, among others, the integration of capacities from many different companies, organizations and government institutions, often including volunteer groups. An example is the Viking Sky incident in March 2019 where a large cruise ship experienced engine failure and nearly grounded in storm and heavy waves at the Norwegian west coast The mass Rescue evacuation demanded a Close interplay between sea, land and air Resources both from private and government sector. The operation involved several municipalities and a broad range of volunteers.
In this project, we emphasize knowledge on the management systems and the coordination and control of a broad range of actors. We elaborate on the need for specialized training for incident commanders at different levels to be prepared for a complex emergency context, with a special focus on the roles and responsibilities, structuring mechanisms and information flow of joint and often combined operations.
This study is based on data from major rescue incidents as well as training and exercise schemes in six countries. Three Norwegian universities and research institutions participate in the project, together with universities from Denmark, Russia, Canada, Sweden and Iceland. The MAREC project is led by Nord University Business School, Norway.
In the first phase of the project there have been analyses of different structuring mechanisms within emergency response agencies with a special focus on the Incident Command System (ICS). Flexibility enhancing measures to meet high incident complexity and dynamism have been analyzed. Role repositiong and authority swithing are among the structuring mechanisms emphasized. Studies at large scale exercises including the Exercise Barents Rescue where host nation support is an important issue show that large operations demand organizational and managerial adaptations. Tests with different role structures have been performed in the simulation lab NORDLAB, with scenarios including both search and rescue (SAR) and oil spill response (OSR). The results show that in disasters at sea where often voluntary, samaritan vessels with limited SAR experience are involved, the coordination and competence issues have to be highlighted from the SAR agencies at operational and Strategic Level.
The MAREC project studies inter-organizational coordination of mass rescue operations in environments characterized by high complexity. The project aims at improving the knowledge on emergency preparedness policy framework, coordinative roles and mechanisms of the rescue services and information strategies to ensure situational awareness and collective sense making among emergency response actors. We address inter-organizational and inter-jurisdictional coordination challenges in the operational context of high complexity and the managerial challenges of joint operations. The empirical setting is mass rescue operations at sea and land, with a broad range of emergency response actors, including volunteers. The coordination of the volunteers group is especially highlighted in this project, representing both an asset and additional coordination challenges. The volunteers group may have different organizational system and professional background, yet it has to be an integral part of the mass rescue response. Theoretically, we build upon and contribute to management theory, emphasizing generic managerial roles and coordination processes, organizational theory on structuring mechanisms, and institutional theory in targeting environments where a large number of aspects regarding stakeholders have to be considered. The four working packages focus on (1) The Policy framework for mass rescue response including international agreements; (2) Incident command in mass rescue operations, emphasising managerial roles and structuring mechanisms; (3) Information sharing and situational awareness among different actors in mass rescue incident command; and (4) Dissemination of results oriented at publishing of scientific articles, as well as developing concepts for education and training of key personnel and recommendations for emergency agencies and educational institutions.