Health disaster management


NT Health is responsible for two key functional groups in the Northern Territory's (NT) emergency management arrangements - the Medical Response Group and the Public Health Response and Recovery Group.

Read more about this in key responsibilities.

All hazards approach

The NT Government is prepared to deal with emergencies and disasters through the Emergency Management Act 2013, which is the responsibility of the Police Fire and Emergency Services Minister.

NT emergency arrangements are based upon an 'All Hazards' approach and is implemented in stages, starting at the local level until resources are overwhelmed.

Once local resources are overwhelmed regional arrangements are activated, followed by NT or national assistance as required.

Read more about the NT Emergency Plan on the NT emergency services website.


In case of a medical or other emergency call 000.

Phone: (08) 8999 2654
Fax: (08) 8999 2412

PO Box 40596
Casuarina NT 0811

Related information

The following websites, agencies and organisations have information relating to emergencies and disaster management.

Northern Territory weather and roads

Emergency healthcare


Business continuity

Events over recent years have highlighted the need for NT Health to be prepared for a range of potential threats to the provision of our services.

In addition to the department's obligations under whole-of-government disaster management responses, the department has a responsibility to keep providing essential health and community services in the event of major threats. 

It also has a duty of care to look after its staff as well as the community. 

All hazards business continuity plan

The department's generic 'all hazards' business continuity plan is designed to address the majority of potential threats without having to create multiple plans. 

Specific plans may be required for threats not adequately addressed by the generic plan, for example pandemic influenza.


The continuity plan has a duration of a few days or a week, up to four weeks.

The impact is on a facility or building, to a township or regional community.


Business continuity plans serve a number of important functions:

  • identify the specific health and community services that are essential and must be maintained in the event of a major threat
  • identify non-essential services, the delivery of which can be suspended for periods of a week to a month, allowing potentially scarce capacity and infrastructure to be focused on higher priority areas
  • clarify and communicate what the contingency plans are that have been developed to sustain the services identified as essential
  • provide the organisation's staff with an understanding of how communication will occur, where they will go and how they will be enabled to continue providing the essential services upon which the community relies for its health and wellbeing.


Pandemics are epidemics of disease that occur on a worldwide scale and are traditionally caused by infectious diseases such as influenza. 

Although unpredictable in their timing, recent history indicates that influenza pandemics can be expected to occur every 10 to 50 years and it is almost certain they will continue to occur. 

It is this level of certainty, and the fact that almost all humans will be vulnerable, that makes it paramount that planning is carried out at all levels of government. 

The Northern Territory Government's overall strategy for responding to an emerging pandemic is to plan a number of measures to:

  • delay the arrival of the pandemic in Australia
  • contain or slow the spread of the pandemic virus once it reaches Australia including:
    • encouraging social distancing, personal hygiene management strategies.


An influenza pandemic in Australia could have the following impacts:

  • arise rapidly and spread quickly
  • make people very ill and many will likely die
  • generate unprecedented levels of fear
  • occur in several waves, each lasting for several months
  • require government, business and many community agencies to be involved in a whole-of-society response
  • force the closure of schools, child care centres and public gatherings as a social distancing measure
  • result in healthcare services not being able to provide direct care in some cases
  • result in very high staff absence rates for some periods during the pandemic.

Management plans

For the Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza go to the Australian Government's Department of Health website.

For the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2010) go to the Australian Government's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) website.


The Northern Territory Government has adopted a comprehensive approach to emergency management that recognises the following elements:

  • prevention - activities to seek to eliminate or reduce the impact of a hazard
  • preparedness - establishing emergency organisations, developing plans and testing arrangements, as well as providing public education and information
  • response - effective response involves activating preparedness arrangements and plans immediately after any hazard impact
  • recovery - assisting communities affected by emergencies to help them recover emotionally, socially, economically and physically.

Recovery from a major emergency or disaster is coordinated through the Department of the Chief Minister.

Emergency management training

To ensure NT Health maintains its ability to respond in an emergency or a disaster, training is an important component of our emergency planning.

Emergency management training can be informal or formally obtained through:

  • in-time or on-the-job
  • self-learning packages such as CDs or DVDs
  • group training, such as workshops, discussion, simulations, table top and multi-agency exercises
  • accredited under and post-graduate learning provided by universities or other registered training providers
  • Australian Emergency Management Institute (AEMI) courses.

Disaster response training

At the beginning of each 'disaster' season, which runs from October to April, department response groups in each region undertake a training workshop to ensure their readiness to respond.

The following emergency management and clinical practice courses are held by the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC):

  • Major Incident Medical Management and Support (MIMMS) Team and Commander Course
  • trauma response training - strategies to decrease psychological trauma of staff responding to an event
  • Emergo-Train - a disaster simulation exercise and training system that uses a series of whiteboards and magnetic symbols to represent resources available, incorporating a patient bank with descriptions of injuries and potential clinical interventions.

Key responsibilities

NT Health has responsibility for the leadership, management and coordination of these two response and recovery roles.

Medical Response Group
  • coordinate and control the mobilisation of all health responses to emergencies when emergency/counter disaster arrangements are activated. This includes: 
    • hospital
    • medical
    • nursing
    • retrieval
    • first aid
    • pharmaceutical supplies
    • mental health service.
  • laboratory services:
    • diagnostic
    • monitoring
    • therapeutic services.
Public Health Response and Recovery Group
  • environmental health including:
    • monitoring water quality
    • monitoring food safety
    • public health advice on refuse disposal, sewage, vermin and vector control
    • radiation hazards
    • medicines and poisons
    • hygiene and sanitation aspects of emergency shelter and housing
    • personal hygiene, disinfection and coordination and control of all public health information responses.
  • Disease control including:
    • communicable disease risk assessment
    • infection control
    • advice on storage of deceased
    • development of immunisation policies
    • monitoring disease trends.

Disaster management legislation

Disaster management and emergency response is covered by the following Northern Territory and Commonwealth legislation.

Northern Territory


Emergency management

Australian Government

The following Australian Government Acts can be found on the Federal Register of Legislation.

  • National Health Act
  • National Health Security Act
  • Quarantine Act
  • Air Navigation Act
  • Customs Act.