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Who's responsible for Initial Action

Page updated: 27 November 2020

Incident Controllers have overall responsibility for Initial Action, though other SAR organisations and their resources also contribute to the Initial Action stage.

The Incident Controller has overall responsibility for Initial Action

If you're the Incident Controller, you'll usually be responsible for:

  • activating SAR resources
  • mobilising SAR resources
  • tasking SAR resources
  • seeking amplifying information.

You also have overall responsibility for the Initial Action stage as a whole.

Other SAR organisations contribute to Initial Action

This includes SAR organisations whose resources have been activated, mobilised, and tasked in the Initial Action stage.

Responsibilities for the cost of SAR resources may change during Initial Action

SAR organisations are usually responsible for the cost of their resources. However, SAR organisations will have an agreement with coordinating authorities about the charge-out costs of their resources if they are deployed or tasked by the coordinating authority. These agreements will be in place before any of the SAR organisation’s resources are deployed or tasked by the coordinating authority. A coordinating authority will usually cover the cost of all resources that are tasked during a SAR operation.

Responsibility for the health and safety of SAR resources is shared

SAR organisations maintain their responsibility for the health and safety of their resources even when the Incident Controller is deploying the resources. However, the Incident Controller in the coordinating authority also has a responsibility for health and safety and is fully accountable for the health and safety of SAR resources during deployment.

Responsibility is shared for SAR resources’ compliance with the law

The SAR organisation that owns a SAR resource is responsible for that resource’s compliance with the law. However, the Incident Controller is responsible for ensuring that SAR resources are not tasked with anything that will breach the law.

Activated SAR resources are controlled by the Incident Controller

This means that the Incident Controller can direct the actions of activated SAR resources from other SAR organisations.

Activated SAR resources should communicate efficiently

Activated SAR resources need to communicate effectively and efficiently when reporting to the Incident Controller and their own SAR organisation. The division between command and control reporting lines must not result in unnecessary, lengthy, or complex communication processes.

SAR resources report to the Incident Controller in a multi-agency SAR operation

In a multi-agency SAR operation, all resources must report to the SAR operation’s Incident Controller. This may be through managers on the Incident Management Team.

A SAR organisation supplying a SAR resource can withdraw it

A SAR organisation supplying a resource can withdraw it if they or someone senior at the organisation who is in charge of the resource considers that the resource isn’t able to meet the operation's tasking requirements.

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