Introduction: Norway is a country with many road tunnels and therefore also experiences of rescue operations in tunnel environments. Major incidents always challenge involved emergency services’ management skills. Oslo, Norway has a special trained medical on-scene commander, a function already existing in police and rescue service. Intra-agency communication and management of personnel are essential factors for a successful rescue effort.
Aim: To investigate the medical management provided by the special trained Norwegian medical on-scene commander in relation to tunnel incidents.
Methods: Interviews were conducted with six of the seven medical on-scene commanders in Oslo. The collected data were analysed using qualitative content analysis.
Results: An overarching theme emerged: A need of mutual understanding of the tunnel incident. The medical on-scene commanders established guidelines for response in collaboration with the other emergency services. By creating a sense of trust, the collaboration between the emergency services became more fluent. Socialising outside of work, resulted in improved reliance on their counterparts in the other services. The management also included that the medical on-scene commander supervised his personnel on site by providing support using e.g. knowledge of the risk object and surrounding area.
Discussion: A forum for the emergency services on-scene commanders where they share ideas and knowledge, improve the on-scene intra-agency communication and trust is desirable. A culture of trust between the organizations is needed for a mutual understanding. Further research on this subject is needed, in other contexts and countries.