Identifying the psychological principles that outline how interoperability can be achieved within the UK Emergency Services.

Effective emergency response is of vital important to public life. Complex emergencies require emergency teams to temporarily combine their expertise to deal with a situation that would otherwise be impossible to manage by a single team, demanding effective collaboration within as well as across teams.

In 2012, JESIP was established to improve joint working between the emergency services in response to government-level acknowledgement that the emergency services had not been working well together at major incidents (for example, see the Pollock report). The focus of JESIP since its inception has been the development of the Joint Doctrine. This doctrine provides emergency responders with a framework for the actions they should take when working together. However, despite JESIPs best efforts, public enquiries have repeatedly identified that JESIP has not been properly embedded. Pollock warned that procedural changes alone were not enough to achieve effective interoperability and argued that for interoperability to be fully embedded, there also needed to be a concerted effort to shape organisational culture, attitudes, values, and beliefs.

Furthermore, the Manchester Inquiry has been critical of JESIP for failing to be embedded into the ‘muscle memory’ of the emergency services. Hence, work needs to be done to understand where the failures of interoperability lie.

This CREST guide comes from the Systematic Review. To read the full list of references and table of definitions, you can view the Systematic Review here:

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House, A., Power, N., and Alison, L., (2014). A systematic review of the potential hurdles of interoperability to the emergency services in major incidents: Recommendations for solutions and alternatives. Cognition, Technology and Work, 16(3), 319–335.

JESIP, (2021). Joint Doctrine: The Interoperability Framework (3rd edition). Home Office: London

Power, N., (2018). Extreme teams: Toward a greater understanding of multiagency teamwork during major emergencies and disasters. American Psychologist., 73(4), 478–490.

Power, N., and Alison, L. (2017a). Offence or defence? approach and avoid goals in the multi-agency emergency response to a simulated terrorism attack. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 90(1), 51-76.

Pollock, K., (2013). Review of Persistent Lessons Identified Relating to Interoperability from Emergencies and Major Incidents since 1986. Cabinet Office, London.

Saunders, S.J., (2022). Manchester Arena Inquiry Volume 2: Emergency Response (No. 2). Home Office, London.

Wilkinson, B., Cohen.Hatton, S.R., and Honey, R.C., (2019). Decision.making in groups at simulated major incident emergencies: In situ analysis of adherence to UK doctrine. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 27(4), 306–316.