Three years of disasters that saw fires, floods and a pandemic, have highlighted where emergency systems have failed according to the Police Association of NSW, which says that putting police at the centre of disaster management permanently is the best way to future-proof the state against emergency situations spiralling out of control.
In its submission to the 2022 Flood Inquiry, the Police Association of NSW says a complete overall of the current emergency management response is required in order to protect the people of NSW from future emergencies and disasters such as floods, pandemics and bushfires getting out of hand.
Ever-increasing emergency demand
The Association is recommending the NSW Government implement a formal, funded, permanent function within the NSW Police Force devoted to meeting the ever-increasing emergency demand.
Kevin Morton, President of the Police Association of NSW said with the number of disaster and emergency situations facing the state only set to increase, changing the overall structure of emergency management to ensure police are at helm from the very start rather than simply being brought in when things start to go wrong, would be a game-changer for emergency response in the state.
‘The reality is that when disaster strikes, police are often called upon to come in and manage the response. We’ve seen it time and again during bushfires, floods and the pandemic and it makes sense – that’s what cops do and what we’re good at,’ said Mr Morton.
Police are always the first in
‘Keeping people safe, coordinating operations, supplying people with what they need to get by – whatever the challenge, however ‘unprecedented’, police are always the first in and the last left standing, but always finding a way.
‘However, the current emergency response structure means the Police Force is often not called in to assist with an emergency situation until things have got dire and valuable time has already been lost.
Mr Morton said having a police structure permanently in place to deal with disaster response would help ensure we can stave off disasters before they happen, rather than having to come in and fix issues once they’ve already started to spiral out of control.
‘The Ruby Princess and Lismore floods are classic examples of emergency situations that would have benefited greatly from immediate police management.
‘There’s no doubt a lot of pain and suffering could be avoided simply by ensuring those best equipped to handle emergency situations are ready to go at the outset, and when we’re not in the midst of an emergency, having those minds planning mitigation strategies to minimise future risks would be invaluable.’