IFRC process – the Surge alert system

Following a NS request for surge capacity support, alerts will be generated from the surge capacity desk in Geneva, as per the activation procedure, which depends on the category of emergency (local, regional or global). Alerts are sent out to the rapid response personnel registered with the surge desk, and to the surge focal points within PNS (in British Red Cross, this includes members of staff from HR, logistics and emergencies).

On-call roster members will be expected to answer the alert within 24 to 48 hours in order to be able to respond to the need without any delays.

Alerts follow previous standard operating procedures with Information, Alert, Stand down and Deployment messages:

Type of alertMeaning
(I) InformationSystem members receive information of an event that may require surge support.
No response is necessary, but surge personnel to do the pre-checking for possible
deployment.
(A) AlertSent to all active participants that meet the basic required profile and surge focal points
in PNSs.
An immediate reply with details of availability is required.
(D) DeployMembers receive an alert indicating who is deploying.
Alert contains name, profile and NS.
(S) Stand downDeployment request has been cancelled.

Available to download here.

A terms of reference (ToR) for the deployment should be provided with the alert message, containing the deployment requirements in terms of both the kit and personnel.

For more details on the IFRC’s internal ERU (and other emergency response personnel) deployment procedures, see the compiled surge standard operating procedures available from the IFRC surge desk.


British Red Cross internal process

In parallel to the IFRC process, the British Red Cross will follow its own internal procedures as outlined in the Disaster Management Standard Operating Procedures (DMSOPs). The response lead ensures all decisions are logged and documented through the standard ETF/SAT records. Below is a summarised version of the British Red Cross process for deploying an ERU:

  1. IFRC contacts on-call HoE and Int HR by phone/email informing them an ERU may be required.
  2. HoE and HR to check on-call team availability, also liaising with relevant regional and technical teams.
  3. ETF held to decide whether to confirm ERU availability with IFRC and potential funding options.
  4. HoE confirms with IFRC that ERU is available.
  5. On-call HR adviser and HR assistant put the team on standby.
  6. Logistics team prepare kit requirements for ERU team.
  7. IFRC receives all offers from NS and makes selection.
  8. IFRC then informs all PNSs that have been given the green light for deployment.
  9. IFRC senior officer, global surge capacity confirms deployment in writing.
  10. HR team mobilises for deployment, contacting the team and organising their transport to UKO for briefing.
  11. Logistics team mobilise kit.
  12. ERU briefed at UKO.
  13. If the ERU is deployed to an emergency within a region, the DMC assumes the role of deployment manager. For emergencies outside of the regional footprint, the response officer undertakes this role.

View and download a flowchart detailing the process for deploying an ERU here.


Deployment

Before the decision is made to deploy the ERU, logistics provide the ETF with preliminary information on:

  • availability of ERU roster to deploy and deployment timeline
  • availability of kit to deploy, estimated deployment cost and timeline
  • status of British Red Cross globally pre-positioned stocks, including costs and shipping timeline.

After the decision to deploy is made, the below tasks must be completed per the allocated responsibilities.

If the ETF decides to deploy a British Red Cross ERU, based on the input of logistics but also of other teams such as security, finance and regional teams, the decision must also be made on the deployment location, including any suggestions to have a split deployment (with the ERU team split into different locations). This decision can be reviewed during the deployment, based on operational realities.

The below actions need to be completed:


Tasks relating to personnel deploymentResponsibility
Arrange briefing scheduleHR
Arrange mission float (maximum of $5,000)Response lead
Collate operations briefing packResponse lead
Notification of per diem allowance and advance HR
Pre-deployment checks: insurance, medicalHR
Arrange flights and visa HR
Request necessary kit, including workwear Response lead
Issue kit to delegates Logistics
Hand over mission float and related forms to delegates International finance
Issue visibility items to delegates HR
Notify in-country team (IFRC/ICRC) of itineraryHR
Write-off value of kit deployed from the balance sheet
and charge it to the relevant project code
International finance

Available to download here.

Note: a “briefing pack” is available from PIMS here. Reach out to international HR if you cannot access the documents through PIMS; they can share the briefing and debriefing templates upon request.

The kits are split into modules, designed around the various functions of the ERU. The ERU technical managers can advise which modules to deploy, based on the initial assessment received from the IFRC. For more details on logistics’ responsibility and internal procedure to deploy an ERU, read the ERU kit standard operating procedure and/or request the ERU step-by-step process flowchart.

  1. Response lead submits request for kit to aligned LogCo, stating kit type and tentative deployment date.
  2. Logistics team assistant preps standard kit (comms, IT, PFK) LOGE and warehouse officer prep ERU kit.
  3. Response lead raises RFA and sends to aligned LogCo.
  4. LogCo confirms availability of kit with operational team (ccing ESTA team).
  5. HR schedules briefings and kit issue with logistics team.
  6. HR informs delegate of briefing schedule and kit content.
  7. Logistics issues kit to delegates, waybill is signed.
  8. Kit stock tracker is updated.
  9. Post deployment: kit is returned to logistics team as agreed.

View and download a flowchart detailing the internal procedures for deploying an ERU here.


Monitoring the deployment

The ERU deployment can last between one and four months, with a new team sent out to take over from the previous one every four weeks. The operational lead and the response lead have overall responsibility for managing the deployment. However, the logistics team is involved each time a new team is sent out and are responsible for the below points:


 Logistics ERU
deployment
MSM ERU
deployment
Kit issued to outbound team (IT and/or comms)XX
Kit received from returning team (IT and/or comms)XX
Collecting feedback from returning teams on the ERU kit
(through the kit feedback form)
XX
Attending briefings, as scheduled by HRXOptional
Attending debriefings, as scheduled by HRXOptional
Analysing and monitoring the ERU’s performance X

Available to download here.

For more details on reporting requirements, read the IFRC standard reporting requirements for ERU deployments and refer to the annexed templates within the IFRC ERU standard operating procedures (2012).


ERU delegates’ appraisal

Emergency Response Unit managers are also involved in the appraisal process of all British Red Cross delegates returning from an ERU deployment. The team leader appraises the ERU team members (the FACT delegate appraises the ERU team leader) using the IFRC surge standard appraisal form, which is shared with IFRC surge desk, British Red Cross HR and the roster manager.

Each ERU delegate must complete two separate end-of-mission reports. The first one is operational, and the second is focused on HR aspects of the deployment. This latter report is confidential and only shared with British Red Cross HR. The operational report can be shared within British Red Cross and with IFRC when relevant.


ERU evaluation

When the ERU intervention finishes (this can be after a full four-rotation deployment or fewer rotations, depending on the operational needs), it is good practice to request for an independent evaluation. Ideally a partner organisation should lead on the evaluation and present results to both the British Red Cross and the IFRC, and also to the relevant technical working groups to address suggested improvements.

Terms of reference for the evaluation should be drafted by the technical roster manager (logistics or MSM) with the operational lead and response lead, capturing points fed back by delegates through their end-of-mission reports and situation reports shared during deployment. The evaluation should include a “satisfaction survey”, to understand how others involved in the response (other ERUs, PNS, the IFRC coordination structure, the HNS and, where relevant, beneficiaries of support directly provided by the ERU) benefitted from its deployment. Standard Logistics ERU evaluation terms of reference are being developed by the Logistics ERU technical working group.

It is important to take the cost of evaluation into consideration when developing the budget for the response.


Read the next section on Replenishing the ERU kits here.

Download the full section here.

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