Critical Incident and Emergency Management

Approval Date
1 December 2018
Approved By
Chief Executive
Next Review
1 August 2019
Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety
Baldrige Criteria
Workforce focus

Otago Polytechnic has a duty of care to staff, learners and others in the workplace to ensure their safety at all times.

The purpose of this policy is to mitigate risk to Otago Polytechnic staff, learners, contractors, and visitors regarding critical incidents.

Raising awareness of these events and communicating information on safe practices ensures that Otago Polytechnic’s responses to critical incidents and emergencies are well managed and effective.





Critical Incident is an unplanned or unforeseen traumatic event which has an impact on the institution, its staff, its learners, and the wider community. Examples of critical incidents and emergencies are, but not limited to fire, chemical spill, gas leak, flood, pandemic, and an act of terrorism, threat to safety of staff, learners, and the wider community.

Emergency is an event, or series of events, that can cause death or significant injuries to staff, learners, or the public; or that can suspend business, disrupt operations, create  significant physical or environmental damage, or that can threaten the Polytechnic’s financial standing or public image.

Epidemic/Pandemic: Country wide or worldwide spread of disease; widespread  occurrence of infectious disease which may be spread quickly to many people.

Learner-Centered event: is an event involving one or more learners, which may involve sudden illness (potential for pandemic response), sudden illness causing death, self-harm incident, accident causing serious injury or accident causing death. This can be course related or outside of teaching time.

Incident Emergency Control Centre is an area or zone on campus that becomes the base for the Incident Emergency Management Team (IEMT).

Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) is a group led by an Incident Controller who have been assembled from throughout Otago Polytechnic and who have the training, skills and knowledge required to react effectively during an incident or emergency. CIMT is responsible for the operational management of the incident or emergency in line with the Incident Emergency Management Plan with the immediate focus on saving life and property.

Strategic Emergency Management Group is the Executive Leadership Team which will be responsible for events that have long term, high fiscal impact on the organisation. Such an event would have impact on business continuity and strategic way forward for the organisation. This group is convened on advice from the Incident Controller.


1.  A Critical Incident or Emergency is declared by the Chief Executive or delegate when it is deemed that an Emergency cannot be managed by day-to-day operational management. The Critical Incident / Emergency Management Plan is activated at this point and continues throughout the period of the emergency.

2.  It is the responsibility of staff and learners to be thoroughly conversant with evacuation arrangements concerning buildings and areas in which they work.

3.  Staff must briefly outline the critical incident and emergency procedures to learners and visitors at the beginning of any programme, course, or meeting.

4.  Training

4.1.  All Otago Polytechnic staff are encouraged to be conversant with this policy. Familiarisation will form part of new staff induction.

4.2.  Selected Otago Polytechnic staff will be trained to the NZ standard Level 2 Coordinated Incident Management System (CIMS).

4.3.  Selected Otago Polytechnic staff will be trained as emergency wardens. A list of Otago Polytechnic emergency wardens is available on the internal intranet site, Tūhono or by contacting the Safety and Wellbeing Representative in a particular work area.

5.  Levels of Incident/Emergency and Notification Criteria

5.1. All incidents/accidents are notified to the Director: Health and Safety who, depending on the seriousness of the incident/accident, and after discussion with Deputy Chief Executive People, Culture and Safety, will escalate according to the notification and escalation table in 5.4.

5.2. Critical Incidents, Emergencies or Learner Centred events are categorised at several levels. (Refer to clause 5.4). Subsequent response activities will vary depending on the nature of the event.

5.3. The Chief Executive, or delegate, has the ultimate responsibility and authority for declaring a Critical Incident or Emergency and making key executive decisions such as those pertaining to:

·  closure of part or all of the campus

·  evacuation of non-essential personnel

·  suspension of business activity

·  business continuity.

5.4. Notification and escalation table

Level No:


Notification – immediate to:

Escalation – Director: Health and Safety will notify:


·         Where individuals are involved, dependent on incident

·         Worksafe Notifiable Event

·         Damage that results in minimal business loss

·         Minimal cost is incurred

·         Where the reputation of OP may be at risk

·         Negligible environmental Impact

·         No serious breach of legislation

·         Financial loss <$5000

Director: Health and Safety and DCE: People, Culture & Safety

DCE: People Culture and Safety


Head of School/College or Service Area


Chief Executive


OP Board – where OP  reputation is at risk.


·         Where more than one person is involved

·         Where an incident could have caused multiple injuries

·         Plant or property damaged

·         Minor costs incurred

·         Where the reputation of OP is at risk

·         Long term or significant environmental impact

·         Breach of legislation

·         Financial loss $5000 - $0.5 million

Director: Health and Safety and DCE: People, Culture & Safety

DCE: People Culture and Safety who will activate the Critical  Incident  Management Team (CIMT) in

consultation with the Chief Executive


OP Board


·         Death

·         Multiple people injured

·         Worksafe notifiable event

·         Significant structural or environmental damage

·         Significant financial loss

·         Possible permanent closure of the business site

·         Significant business interruption

·         Significant costs incurred

·         Where the reputation of OP is at risk

·         Highly significant long term environmental impact

·         Legislative breach causing cease of operation

·         Financial loss - >$0.5 million

Director: Health and Safety


DCE: People, Culture & Safety


Chief Executive

Chief Executive


DCE: People, Culture and Safety


OP Board immediately

*If the Director: Health and Safety is not available the DCE: People, Culture and Safety will act in their place.

In all cases where a named person is not available their delegate will act in their place.

6.  Activation of the Critical Incident and Emergency Management Plan - applies to levels 2 and 3

6.1.  Among the key factors for the Chief Executive, or delegate, to consider in making the decision to activate the Critical Incident and Emergency Management Plan are:

·   Whether life and/or property are at risk.

·   A large area is affected (entire campus/city/region).

·   Other emergency services are involved.

·   The emergency is longer term (longer than one day).

·    It is a serious health incident which could cause major disruption to the Polytechnic teaching and services.

·    Where emergency declaration is made by local government authorities.

6.2.  The principle of ‘prudent over-reaction and rapid de-escalation’ applies when making the decision to declare a Critical Incident or Emergency. It is easier and usually more effective to scale down an over-reaction than it is to escalate an under-reaction.

6.3.  When a Critical Incident or Emergency is declared, this ‘Plan’ and the Emergency Communications Plan are activated (refer to standard operating procedure SOPs (001 and 002).

7.  Response

7.1.  In the event of a Critical Incident and Emergency, teams will be brought together to manage the event determined by the level of the incident or emergency as per clause 5.4, Levels of Incident Emergency and Notification criteria.

7.2.  The Chief Executive may delegate to the Incident Controller (when available, Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety), full responsibility to manage the initial response to a Critical Incident and Emergency including decisions around operational priorities and resource allocation.  The Incident Controller is then responsible throughout the event.

7.3.  The Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) shall be activated at Levels 2 & 3. They will be responsible for the operational response phase of any event. The CIMT shall comprise:

Critical Incident or Emergency


Polytechnic position

Incident Controller

DCE People, Culture and Safety (or delegate)

Property and Operations Manager

Director: Campus Environment (or delegate)

Health and Safety Manager

Director: Campus Environment (or delegate)

Communications and Planning Manager

Director: Marketing, Sales and Communications (or delegate)

Recovery Manager

DCE: Business Services

Administration Support

Executive Business Support Partner (or delegate)

Systems Manager

Chief Information Officer (or delegate)

Learner Services

Director: Learner Services (or delegate)

Note 1: The Critical Incident Management Team has delegated authority for emergency expenditure in the interests of staff and learner safety and wellbeing. (e.g., Generators, Port-a-loos, tools and equipment).

Note 2: At this stage and following advice from the Incident Controller, the Strategic Emergency Management Group (SEMG) may also be convened to discuss the Critical Incident or Emergency and provide additional strategic decision making to assist the Critical Incident Management Team CIMT.

7.4.  The Chief Executive or Incident Controller, through the Communications and Planning Manager will notify the Incident Communications Team who will take appropriate steps to ensure information is quickly broadcast to staff and learners.

7.5.  The role descriptions for staff that make up the Critical Incident Management Team are documented separately. When the Critical Incident and Emergency Management Plan is activated, these staff will be released from their usual roles to take up their Critical Incident or Emergency management roles.

7.6.  Checklists will be provided for the CIMT to review and act on in relation to each event and will be created specifically for the following timeframes:

·   Immediate response – hours 1 to 6

·   Secondary response – hours 6 to 24

·   Recovery response – hours 24 to 48

·   Long term recovery – hours 48 onwards.

7.7.  Members of the Executive Leadership Team (ELT), or any other Otago Polytechnic staff member, may be called on as appropriate.

7.8.  During the management of any event, additional support will be made available using the resources available through Learner Services, Chaplaincy Services and Staff Assistance Providers (SAP).

7.9.   The physical location of the Incident/Emergency Control Centre will be such as to manage an effective response to a Critical Incident or Emergency:

·    Dunedin Campus – F209 Puna Kawa or in the event this room is not accessible, Campus Services in S Block.

·    Central Campus – Main Office with video conferencing to connect with Dunedin Campus.

·    AIC – Main boardroom with video conferencing to connect with Dunedin Campus.

·    Other Campus’s and distance staff / learners, via skype, cell phone or other means.

Note: Incident/Emergency Control Centre may change dependent on event or structure availability.

8.  Post incident review and improvement.

8.1.  The appropriate procedure will be reviewed and updated as required at the conclusion of each such incident and by the persons involved in the management of that incident.

8.2.  Testing of the Critical Incident and Emergency Management Plan shall be conducted as a practical and desktop exercise on alternate years, or otherwise more frequently if required.

9.  Reporting

9.1.  Council will be notified of all activated incidents through Health, Safety and Wellbeing reporting mechanisms.



  • Health and Safety Induction and Training
  • Learner Discipline and Exclusion
  • Authorities and Delegations from Chief Executive
  • Specific Financial Authorities and Delegations




For specific Incident or Emergency description and action – refer to printed flipcharts at entrances and exits to Schools/Colleges/Service Areas.

More information can be found at the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management website: or the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering: