Unified Emergency Management in the port of Antwerp
Fire Protection Consultants (FPC), Noorderlaan 133, 2030 Antwerp, firstname.lastname@example.org
This paper describes a case study of the Calahan project in the port of Antwerp where
industry and government joined forces to build unified emergency response scenario‟s for the
crisis management level of the operations.
The port of Antwerp is the 2nd largest petro-chemical cluster in the world. No fewer than
seven of the ten largest chemical companies in the world have one or more production sites
within the Antwerp petrochemical cluster. Nowhere in the world are more chemical
substances produced than in the Antwerp port area. About 70 Seveso companies are within
the vicinity of the villages, the city of Antwerp and the Dutch border, potentially affecting over
1 Mio people when a large scale incident occurs.
Today these companies, civil aid services and authorities prepare themselves individually in
order to deal with the diversity of risks. In this project a common Emergency Response
Management (ERM) framework and scenarios were developed to support the decision
making process throughout the Emergency Management (EM) organisation.
The project was jointly developed by BASF, PetroPlus, Solvay, Total, Vopak, the fire brigade
of the city of Antwerp, the fire brigade of Beveren, the city of Antwerp, the town of Beveren,
the emergency management agency of the province of Antwerp, FPC and Safety Center
2 Problem description
Seveso1 companies prepare themselves for emergency situations based on various Risk
Analysis methods. Cause-consequence models and event tree analysis are commonly used
techniques in the preparation phase of emergency response management. QRA and safety
reports, site specific data, general practices in ERM and regulatory requirements form the
basis of the site ER plan. Every industrial site will have a somewhat different approach to the
ER plan and uses different processes and procedures. The EM organisation of every Seveso
site needs to integrate its ER plan with the ER plan of the authorities: fire brigade, local
police, medical aid, civil defence, the mayor and governor‟s EM organisation. The authorities
need to do build an ER plan for all Seveso sites in the port.
When an incident occurs the EM organisations of all parties need to collaborate seamlessly
at operational, tactical and strategic level. The complexity of all those stakeholders working
together when an incident occurs is enormous. Large scale incidents such as Ghislenghein,
Buncefield, etc... have demonstrated that the decision making process is complex and, if not
streamlined properly, results in large scale consequences towards people and property.
Experience shows that crisis management decisions are often taken too late, based on
incomplete or incorrect data, based on lack of experience, not well communicated or
controlled. The lack of a uniform picture and processes make that the outcome of a crisis
situation is largely dependent on the level of experience of the crisis manager(s) and not on a
systematic, reproducible approach.
Whilst at the infrastructure level there are recognised standards for safety, when it comes to
defining processes, roles & responsibilities across organisation boundaries standards are
missing. Within this project companies and government have worked together to build a
standard framework for Emergency Response Management.
2.1 The decision making process
Crisis management decision making is an ongoing process that can be divided in the
following 6 steps2:
1. Information about the emergency situation is
2. Based on this information the situation is
visualised by the decision makers;
3. A judgement about the situation and potential
appropriate actions is made;
4. A decision is made after consulting all
5. Commands are issued to the executing parties;
6. The decision makers need to control whether
actions are executed or any issues that prevent
the proper execution of the actions arise.
Figure 1: Decision making process
The quality of the decisions is determined by a number of factors. The 3 most essential
factors are ;
The Quality of Information;
The experience of the Crisis Management Team;
Common understanding of the situation at all levels of the EM organisation;
2.1.1 Information Quality
Crisis situations are continuously changing by their very nature. The timeliness and quality of
information is paradigm to the quality of the decisions that will be taken. Information needs to
be captured at the start of the incident in order to present the Crisis Management Team with
accurate data at the start of the crisis management meeting. Information quality is
determined according to the following dimensions 3:
Intrinsic IQ Accuracy, Objectivity, Believability, Reputation
Contextual IQ Relevancy, Value-Added, Timeliness, Completeness,
Amount of information
Representational IQ Interpretability, Ease of understanding, Concise
representation, Consistent representation
Accessibility IQ Accessibility, Access security
Often information gathered from the operator of the process installation, the victims and
hazardous materials and escalation scenarios are not immediately available to the company
crisis management team. Valuable time is lost by trying to evaluate the situation. When civil
aid services and the government are requested for help they need to be provided with
quality information in due time . Time is critical in situations where every minute counts.
2.1.2 Lack of experience
Another issue is that the emergency management expert for a specific incident is often not
on site when the incident occurs. Crisis managers therefore need to deal with a situation they
often unfamiliar with. In addition, there is always a risk that management is „sucked‟ into
operational tasks, distracting them from their primary task: developing a crisis management
strategy and taking measures for business continuity. In small EM organisations crisis
management teams are less experienced, have fewer team members and need to
accumulate tasks. A checklist describing the crisis management processes, their roles &
responsibilities and a dashboard with an overview of the situation is lacking. With this
shortage of expertise and information in the first minutes and hours of the incident, crisis
managers find themselves in an unfamiliar situation. As such, they will rely on their „instincts‟
or what others tell them to do.
2.1.3 Common understanding of the situation
Having the same understanding of the situation at all times throughout the different levels of
the EM organisation is crucial to an effective emergency response operation.
Today all parties involved work with their own tools to gather and visualise information.
Examples of this include using different:
sources of information (personal contacts in the field, ...)
site specific data incl. Contact data, hazmat data, safety reports, maps;
maps of source and effect areas (sharing of map data at different locations is very
difficult, outdated layers, ...);
methods to store, track and visualise incident data;
communication methods (radio channels, telephone, video, email, instant messaging,
3 Methodology used
The FIRES4 methodology, as developed by FPC formed the basis of the methodology used
in this project. Whilst Risk Analysis is mostly quantitative, building a EM organisation
requires a more qualitative approach.
A first step in the process is the identification of credible incidents. Incidents are
categorised by type (fire, explosion, leakage, terrorist act ...) and size (small, medium, large).
The next step is to develop scenarios for these credible incidents. A scenario describes the
EM organisation its roles, responsibilities, tasks and relevant incident parameters (hazmat,
weather, location, victims ...). In the project 4 different scenarios have been developed:
Nuclear Transport Accident
In these scenarios the required resources and several alarm phases are defined according
to the incident severity in terms of business and social impact or affected area.
The alarm phase determines the EM organisation structure. For smaller incidents with no
external effects, the EM organisation will consist of management and staff from the plant.
The incident commander is a company official (fire chief, plant manager, ...) who leads the
EM organisation and who can call in external help for specific tasks.
Once an incident develops outside the fence of the plant, the authorities take over the
incident command and the company and governmental EM organisations need to
collaborate. Roles and responsibilities vary dynamically according to the current alarm
An example of the organisation for a municipal phase can be found below:
Director Operations Fire brigade officer Medical officer Police Force officer Communications Plant Manager
Director fire brigade
Company First Aid
Director Police Force
3rd party services
Figure 2: EM organisation Chart
The next section describes an overview of the different processes of ERM, how roles &
responsibilities of the joint EM organisations are defined and how a common Operational
picture was achieved in the project.
3.1 ER processes
The EM organisation is driven by ER processes. These processes describe:
the topics that require management level decisions;
the information needed for those decisions;
who should provide that information;
the actions that need to be taken;
who should execute those actions.
As there are no standard cross-boundary emergency response management processes
available in Belgium the Dutch governmental guide „leidraad maatramp‟5 was used as a
model. From this model the following framework of 27 main processes was derived:
0. Alarming & escalation 13. Deceased identification
1. Fire fighting and emission control 14. Victim‟s registration
2. Rescue & technical support 15. Funeral
3. Measurement 16. Claims registration and processing
4. Contamination check and 17. Crisis information and communication
decontamination of people, vehicles 18. Alert of the population
19. Alert staff and contractors
5. Medical Aid 20. Clearance and evacuation
6. Mental health care 21. Sheltering and medical care
7. Preventive public health 22. Primary needs
8. Maintain public safety 23. Environmental care
9. Criminal investigation 24. Accessibility
10. Traffic control 25. Collection of contaminated materials
11. Perimeter security 26. Leadership and control
3.2 Roles & Responsibilities matrix
For every process the management decisions needs to be taken around specific crisis
An example is the decision to shut down a process or to evacuate the plant. Information is
needed from the tactical level of the operations in order to build an accurate picture of the
situation and all parameters that can impact the decision.
A simplified version of RASCI6 matrices7 is used to describe:
The role accountable for a process;
The role responsible for the decisions to take;
The role responsible for the correct information:
The role(s) to be consulted when gathering the required information;
The role(s) responsible for the execution of the tasks.
An example8 is shown below:
Table 1: example of a RACI matrix for crisis management
Alarming & escalation A
What is the expected economical R
and social impact?
What is the incident type and I I I I I I I I R
Time of the start of the incident I I I I I I I I R
What objects are affected by the I I I I I I I I R
Escalate to a higher phase I I I I I I I I C/I I C/I C R
Alert fire brigade R
Alert police R
Alert Port security R
Alert company crisis team R
3.3 Decision Support Crisis Information Management Software Platform
We used a software platform (NoKeos) to provide all parties with the same tool that functions
as a decision support system. It is an internet based platform which provides all participants
in the EM organisation with actual information no matter where they are: on site, at HQ,
remote, at the fire station, municipal or national Crisis Centres. The scenarios are loaded into
the software platform which can then be used by all members of the EM organisation.
3.4 Assuring Information Quality
It is crucial to capture information from the start of the incident. Therefore NoKeos can either
receive alerts from detection systems or an operator can manually start an incident using a
software wizard. Crucial data such as location, hazmat, weather, victims, etc... are captured
and an alarm phase is selected. The system then automatically alerts the different parties in
the EM organisation.
In order to assure the Information Quality after the start of the incident, Questions are
grouped and sent to the roles indicated with an „R‟ in the scenario matrix. Answers are
supplied to the crisis management level as suggested values which the incident manager
needs to validate. The difference between „validated‟ and „suggested‟ is shared with the
whole EM organisation so that everyone knows what is the actual situation and what
changes are coming down the line, but are not yet approved. In order to assure the
timeliness of information, questions can be asked on a repetitive basis (eg every 15 min) or
after a specific time after the start of the incident. Timers can be put on question groups so
that crisis management has accurate information for their regular steering meetings. Also
crisis communication to external parties such as media, staff, family of victims, customers &
suppliers need to be based on validated facts that are consistent between the company and
Below you can find a diagram depicting the information flow between the 3 levels of the EM
organisation and the outside world. Blue boxes represent the company EM organisation,
white boxes are governmental.
Figure 3: Crisis Information flow
3.5 Capturing knowledge in scenarios
Knowledge about incident types, phases, data and processes are captured in scenarios.
Based on validated data the system will suggest incident type, size or phase. E.g. if the
company fire brigade indicates there is a Chlorine leak and they don‟t have enough
resources to stop the incident, the system will suggest a Large Gas emission scenario and
escalation to the government. Likewise if there are more than 10 victims validated then the
system will suggest starting a Medical Intervention Plan process.
The power of this scenario driven approach and the suggestions of the system is that
knowledge on what to do for specific types of incidents is now captured in a system and can
be made available to EM organisations with less experience from the start of the incident.
Also for more experienced crisis managers the system will help to structure information,
supporting the decision process and serving as an intelligent assistant in the chaos of an
incident. Below you can find a screenshot of the Command & Control centre that provides
the incident manager an overview of the current situations and requests him to validate
information and suggested actions to take.
Figure 4: Command & Control Centre
3.6 Providing a Common Operational Picture
The information flow assures that all incident data is captured from the right source and
made available to all parties at the same time through an internet based platform. Next to
data maps are also a crucial piece of information as we‟ve discussed before. By providing a
common map where all parties can add data such as location of the incident, dispersion
model plots, evacuation areas, location of command posts etc... everyone has the same
understanding of the situation. This alone was an enormous value add in the project.
Figure 5: Common Map of the incident
3.7 Conclusion and Lessons Learned
During the project we were able to align the crisis management processes of more than 10
different parties that need to work together in case of large scale incidents. It proved that a
common framework between companies and government is not only possible but necessary
in order to deal more efficiently with the variety of risks in a complex industrial cluster such as
the port of Antwerp.
A very strong point in the project is the common operational picture that is made available to
a crisis manager at the push of a button. Structured, validated data helps to improve the
quality and speed of decision taking.
We also learned that developing the first scenario took 3 months but that 90% of all
scenarios is the same. This is logical as the differences in scenarios are more at the
operational level than the strategic level of the organisation.
Now the scenarios need to be fine-tuned by using them in different situations by different
users during exercises and trainings. More scenarios dealing with different types of risks
need to be developed. The project group will grow to include more companies and
government parties so that knowledge can grow and can be shared amongst everyone.
The project also demonstrated that in a short time period standards can be built from the
ground up. Acceptance at national levels will probably take a little longer.
The EU Seveso directive applies to all companies with a minimum quantity of hazardous materials.
The Seveso II directive was created after the disaster which happened with a large industrial plant in
the village of Seveso, Italy in 1976. More info can be found here:
Lt. Colonel Chris Addiers, Training course „crisissituatiebeheer‟ from the Fire Brigade of Antwerp
Wang, R. & Strong, D. (1996) "Beyond Accuracy: What Data Quality Means to Data Consumers".
"Journal of Management Information Systems", 12(4), p. 5-34.
FIRES : Fire Initiated Response and Evacuation Scenarios
Ingenieurs/Adviesbureau SAVE & Adviesbureau Van Dijke, “Leidraad Maatramp”, p 23,
A commonly used technique to describe responsibilities assignments in business processes. RASCI
is an extended version of RACI. It is an acronym which stands for: Responsible, Accountable,
Supportive, Consulted and Informed.
Wikipedia, “Responsibility assignment matrix” ,
FPC, (2009) “CalaHAn: Efficiënt calamiteitenbeheer in de haven van Antwerpen”, p. 8