Tasks and responsibilities in the event of a crisis or disaster

The following parties are responsible for dealing with a crisis or disaster: the mayor, the fire brigade, the medical and municipal services and the police. The army may also be deployed.


The mayor is responsible at the administrative level for ensuring that the response effort runs smoothly. He/she convenes the representatives of the various public services who make up the disaster management team. In view of the mayor's administrative responsibility, the municipal council may call him/her to account for the overall management of the response effort.

Fire service

The fire service is the linchpin of the disaster response. The fire chief is charged with the operational management of the response effort. Everything that occurs in the disaster area falls under his/her authority. As a member of the disaster management team, the fire chief puts the team's decisions into practice. He/she also coordinates the work of the emergency services. In the disaster area, the fire service's first duty is to save people and animals. Firefighters also put out fires, of course, and conduct tests to find out whether any hazardous substances have been released.

Regional accident and disaster medical teams

Anyone injured in a disaster will require medical assistance as soon as possible. Ambulance paramedics will usually provide first aid and stabilise the injured so that they can be taken to hospital.

Police services

The police will ensure that the fire and ambulance services can do their job. They will cordon off the disaster area, direct traffic and sometimes set up a safety zone around the disaster area. If victims are difficult to identify, the police will deploy the disaster identification team, consisting of experts convened on an ad hoc basis. This team of specialists perform their work in consultation with one another.

Armed forces

The Ministry of Defence can deploy military personnel to respond to a disaster. Their duties include evacuating people.

Municipal services

The municipality is responsible for the residents' immediate welfare. Municipal services will assist in other practical ways, such as providing food and temporary shelter; they may also offer psychological care. In addition, the municipality will register the victims and may help them attend to uninsured damage.

Other services that respond to a disaster

Which services take part in the response effort will depend on the type of disaster.

  • Water authorities

    In the event of flooding caused by burst dikes or heavy rainfall
  • Coastguard

    In the event of a disaster off the Dutch coast.
  • Red Cross

    To treat the injured
  • Rescue dog organisations

    To look for victims trapped beneath rubble
  • Salvation Army

    To provide both victims and emergency workers with sandwiches and soup