What was common between the capsizing of the cruise liner Costa Concordia, engine fire on the Carnival Triumph and the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig?

In all cases, the people impacted did not believe or find that the authorities, whether public or private, were capable of meeting their immediate needs. Consequently, such biases led to collective behavior or ‘herding’ with devastating outcomes.

Holding true to its mission of marine safety, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) finds itself in roles of maritime incident management and provider of training for examination of foreign ships carrying U.S. passengers.

Also, following land-based costal events such as Hurricane Harvey, the USCG is called upon to perform rescue operations in which risk assessment through effective communication between stakeholders becomes extremely important.

Accordingly, this paper proposes a performance-based approach to occupant safety, occupant circulation, and hazard communication so that both classification rules can be developed and guidelines can be proposed for inclusion in the USCG Incident Management Handbook.

Advances in the analysis and modelling of the movement of people, especially in building fires, have established the decision-making processes that individuals or groups undergo before reacting to an imminent danger. When a large number of people have a high commitment either to activity or to inactivity, it becomes important that an equilibrium solution is adopted and the resources are allocated accordingly.

The author proposes evaluating incident management as a dynamic system. Like any dynamic system, incident management for any disaster, evolves with time in terms of scale, needed inputs and desired outputs. Engineers today have the capability to influence the outputs by establishing protocols for sharing of information and resources among the stakeholders. The author presented a paper on a similar topic at ASME’s Dynamic Systems and Controls Conference (DSCC 2015)3.

Paper published with permission.

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