Incidents and emergencies can occur at any time, they can arise from a number of causes, and can have a significant impact on the University's operations. The University has committed significant resources to quickly respond to incidents and developed plans to guide the initial response, boost the University's resilience to disruptive events and, where necessary, facilitate the efficient recovery of core activities. These guidelines describe the emergency management framework used at the University of Sydney.


These guidelines have been written for reference by the management of the University of Sydney's faculties, schools and departments, and professional services units. They cover:


Incident means an event (eg. alarm, small chemical spill), which requires an immediate response, but can be managed relatively quickly using local resources, possibly with the assistance of the Emergency Services.

Emergency means an incident which becomes more serious and requires management coordination to address the wider implications. An emergency usually involves intervention by the Emergency Services.

Crisis refers to an incident, emergency or other set of circumstances, which significantly threaten the operations of the University.

Emergency Control Organisation (ECO) is a structured organisation that will provide an appropriate initial response to incidents or emergency situations within a building. The ECO will consist of the Chief and Deputy Chief Warden, Emergency Wardens with responsibility for designated areas of the building and Nominated First Aid Officers. The ECO will be under the control of a Chief Warden who will be appointed by and report to the Head(s) of the Department(s) with staff occupying the building.

CMS refers to the University Security Services Central Monitoring Station.

Emergency management principles

Successful emergency management is highly dependant on good emergency preparedness. This requires planning the response to all common and plausible incidents, but at the same time ensuring that the response plans allow sufficient flexibility so that they can be adapted to suit the specific circumstances.

The following principles and priorities will be applied in response to all incidents and emergencies:

 Priority            Principle
 1. Ensure Safety Save lives, prevent injury and provide first aid and/or arrange medical assistance when required.
 2. Protect the environment Contain the impact of the event to prevent harm to the environment.
 3. Protect property Protect property from damage and contain the event to limit further impact.
 4. Restore University  Infrastructure Restore essential infrastructure or provide alternate access to essential infrastructure.
 5. Restore University Operations Restore academic and administrative functions.

Emergency management structures

A three tiered emergency management framework has been developed with separate, but linked, plans for:

  1. Response to incidents, which can be managed relatively quickly using local resources, possibly with the assistance of the Emergency Services.
  2. Management of emergencies that usually involve intervention by the Emergency Services and require a greater level of coordination to address the wider implications.
  3. Management of a crisis where there is a significant threat to the operations of the University.

The following diagram illustrates the connection between the three levels of response:

Emergency Management diagram

Emergency management documentation

The procedures relating to each level of emergency response are documented in three different plans.

Incident Response Plan (IRP)
The IRP details the procedures for coordination between Security Services, Building Emergency Control Organisations (ECO) and the attending emergency services, and protocols for escalation to Emergency response. It also includes the Standard Operating Procedures for all staff (Emergency Help website), Building ECOs and Security Services.

Emergency Management Plan (EMP)
The EMP details the process of forming an Emergency Management Team (EMT), the role of the EMT, procedures for coordination with the emergency services, facilities and resources available for emergency response and protocols for escalation to Crisis response.

Crisis Management Handbook (CMH)
The University's CMH summarises the guidelines that the Crisis Management Team (CMT) will employ to manage incidents or circumstances that have been escalated to crisis level. Associated with the CMH is a number of Business Continuity Plans (BCP) that may be activated to help University operations return to normalcy as quickly as possible.

Responsibility for emergency management

The Chief Operating Officer oversees the Emergency Management Process through and Emergency Management Committee (EMC) comprising:

  • Director, Campus Infrastructure Services
  • Director, Human Resources
  • Director, Campus Acquisitions
  • Executive Director, External Relations
  • Director, Audit and Risk Management
  • Manager, University Security Services
  • Manager, Work Health & Safety

The EMC meets monthly and provides reports to the Senior Executive Group, the Safety and Risk Management Committee of Senate and the Central OHS Committee.

Building Emergency Procedures
Local Heads of Department are responsible for ensuring that building emergency procedures are implemented in accordance with the performance standards outlined in the Guidelines for Building Emergency Procedures.

Maintenance and testing of emergency management processes

The IRP will be tested regularly in accordance with the requirements of the Building Emergency Procedures. The EMP will be tested at least twice per annum via desktop scenarios and at least once a year via a real-time simulated exercise. The CMH will be tested at least annually via a desk-top scenario.