Department of Health

State Health Emergency Arrangements

The State Health Emergency Arrangements are an array of operational response plans, protocols and guides. They seek to deliver safe, effective and coordinated management of all health emergencies or emergencies with health impacts, across Victoria.

What is a health emergency?

A health emergency is an emerging, imminent or actual threat to the health and wellbeing of the Victorian community. It requires a significant and coordinated effort from the emergency and health system to manage.

This relates to the following scenarios:

  • health emergencies for which the Victorian Department of Health is the control agency
  • emergencies with health risks or consequences for which Department of Health is a support agency.

State health emergency arrangements

This doctrine comprises of the State Emergency Management Plan Health Emergency Sub-Plan (HESP)External Link and its subordinate operational response plans, protocols and guidelines.

State Emergency Management Plan – Health Emergency Sub-Plan

The HESP outlines the arrangements and roles and responsibilities for managing health emergencies and emergencies with health impacts in Victoria. It provides guidance on mitigation, planning, response, relief and recovery.

Who should use this plan?

The HESP is used by Victorian Government departments, agencies, and other organisations within the state’s health and emergency management sectors who have a role in managing emergencies.

Community service organisations may also find the contents of this plan informative to help prepare for, respond to and recover from health emergencies.

The HESP is a sub-plan to the State Emergency Management PlanExternal Link .

This suite of documents (previously known as State Health Response Arrangements or SHERA) are due to be reviewed to ensure alignment with HESP.

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.


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 EventsExternal Link 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 14 August 2023


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