Department of Health

State Health Emergency Response Arrangements

State Health Emergency Response Plan

The State Health Emergency Response Plan (SHERP) describes the arrangements for the management of health emergencies in Victoria. 

This plan is used by people working in emergency services, such as paramedics, doctors, nurses and people working in public health, to help them effectively coordinate health services for the community during emergencies.

This is carried out using an integrated approach with a shared responsibility for health emergency management between the Department of Health, the emergency management sector, the health system and the community.

In the context of the plan, a health emergency relates to incidents that require significant and coordinated effort to ensure that the health system can respond effectively, while easing any adverse health consequences for communities.

All health and emergency service workers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with this revised fourth edition of the plan. A quick reference guide summarising the key changes between the previous edition and the current version is available now.

Edition 4 of the plan is effective from 1 October 2017.

State Health Emergency Response Plan - Edition 4 (PDF, 3MB) (RTF, 550KB)

Summary of changes to the State Health Emergency Response Plan

Operational Response Plans, protocols and guides

The State Health Emergency Response Plan is supported by a suite of operational response plans and protocols that provide additional detail so that anyone involved before, during or after an emergency has the information they need to meet their responsibilities.

Together, the SHERP and the operational response plans make up the State Health Emergency Response Arrangements.

Operational response plans and policies

Documents Description
Mass Casualty and Pre-hospital Operational Response Plan (Incident tier) Provides additional detail for managing a health emergency response involving mass casualties and pre-hospital arrangements. It describes the leadership and management arrangements for a health emergency response within the incident tier of operations.
Victorian Medical Assistance Team Policy Describes the authorising environment, resilience activity, deployment arrangements, response and mobilisation at incident level for VMAT operations. The policy specifies the health services nominated to maintain VMAT capability.
Statement of Intent: Additional Capability and Capacity Operational Response Plan A proposed Additional Capability and Capacity Operational Response Plan has been superseded by other capability and capacity activity. 


Documents Description
Code Brown guidelines  Provides information to assist health services prepare Code Brown Plans. The guidelines aims to clarify the purpose of Code Brown plans and highlights some key steps to take before, during and after an external emergency.
Guidelines for multiple burns casualties Outlines the response strategies required for an incident resulting in multiple burn casualties in Victoria. In particular, it describes the means by which the State's two burn services will support and respond to an incident involving multiple burn casualties.
First Wave Notification Outlines considerations and process for issuing a first wave notification. The first wave notification is a method for alerting the health sector about incidents (actual or potential) that may result in widespread or catastrophic consequences on the Victorian community or health infrastructure.
Victorian Guidelines for Planning Safe Public Events Provides information to assist event organisers in planning safe events.


Documents Description
Emergency Incident Casualty Data Collection Protocol Describes the procedures for the provision of emergency incident information between health services and Department of Health. The protocol applies to all Victorian public and private health services with an Emergency Department or Urgent Care Centre. Its objective is to collate reliable, accurate, timely and consistent information on presentations to health services resulting from an emergency incident.
Private hospitals protocol Describes the arrangements to provide for the community to be treated at private hospital emergency departments during emergencies.
Victorian Medical Assistance Team Protocol Describes the selection, training, equipping, deployment and administrative arrangements for VMAT. It lists the various major, metropolitan and regional trauma centres at which VMATs have been established, the composition of each VMAT team, training and exercising requirements, and the process by which VMAT assistance may be activated.

Reviewed 12 November 2021


Was this page helpful?