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Operational Discretion or Benefit Vs Risk


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Hi all,

I have been having a debate re: the above and its become clear that the 2 seem to be misunderstood and confused IMO.

I was under the belief that OD was a rare exception that would result in an IC stepping away from SOP's to meet the requirements of an incident under strict criteria, i.e saveable life, prevent public putting themselves in harms way etc.

It was discussed that moving away from a SOP may not necessarily step outside what is foreseen and therefore planned which would result in the benefit V risk scenario.

I am now beginning to get bogged down with this and would be interested to hear peoples thoughts or interpretations.

Cheers Rob

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Ok I’m not an officer and I’m probably about to be torn apart but this is my take...

Risk v benefit applies when there is a considerable danger that requires to go outside of SOP to quickly resolve and remove or greatly reduce that risk, particularly if persons are involved. 

Operational discretion is when an incident fits all the criteria of having to implement set procedures but in reality and uniquely to said incident, it isn’t required. An example would be not implementing basement procedure for a very small fire in a basement that may just be a waste paper bin or similar, whereby a full basement procedure would be overkill, not to mention a drain on resources.

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Well, here is my understanding, and as we do things within our county boundary ....

Your ops discretion is a thing, a policy if you like, that allows you to work outside policy should you think thats necessary....you need to send that as an informative that you have deviated. Ive never done that, cos the sh*t storm would be caused by such an informative isn't worth thinking about....that doesn't mean I've never worked outside policy though.....operation cover up may need to be implemented.

Your risk vs benefit is something you apply to every decision at every job from the moment the bells go, and you read the message.

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Ops discretion relates to rare or exceptional circumstances where following an operational procedure would be a barrier to resolving the incident, or where there is no procedure that adequately deals with the incident. IC's need to know the policies, and the skills and qualities of their crew to justify this risk they include

  • saving life
  • prevent the incident from escalating
  • incidents where taking action may lead to others putting themselves in danger.

The over-arching principle should be that in the opinion of the IC the benefit of taking unusual or innovative action justifies the risk!

I would send a message over the main scheme that i was using ops discretion to time stamp my decision! The other important facet is that the actions you take are the minimum necessary to get the job done and for a limited time.

Benefit V Risk ...

Does the benefit of my actions justify the risk...... happens every single time you make an operational decision, and if you can recall the decision control process then you add why and expectations into the mix also.

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