An emergency management plan plays a critical role in an organization’s ability to respond to and quickly recover from a disaster. Every person that has a role in response should be familiar with the plan, understand their assigned role and how it fits into the overall response process.
In addition to ensuring emergency management plans are tailored to a unique organizational structure, involved agencies and processes must also address key themes to guarantee the organization can effectively respond to the wide array of natural, technological and man-made hazards.
These themes and “must haves” include, but should not be limited to, the following:
- Concept of Operations
One of the most important steps in creating an emergency management plan is to clearly outline your organization’s overall approach to incident response, including the agency’s specific roles, responsibilities and a table of organization. A concept of operations should provide a clear procedure to understand the purpose and scope for the defined lead and support agencies. This concept should be used to communicate both the specific functions and reporting structures to all stakeholders.
The phases of the incident should be outlined in detail, as well as the various levels of activation and how the organization fits into the larger response system (e.g., local, state, federal, etc.).
- All-Hazards Approach
From the Zika virus to the increased threat of terrorism, emergency response agencies are being faced with hazards and scenarios at an accelerated rate, now more than ever. Organizations should identify the most likely threats and hazards which could impact their community. Once these hazards are identified, emergency managers should plan, train and exercise to mitigate any avoidable issues related to the given threats. The all-hazards approach focuses on a standardized response process system for all incidents regardless of the incident type. This approach has stood the test of time and been battle-tested in countless incident responses.
It is important to note that an all-hazards approach does not mean to plan for every possible hazard and scenario. It simply means to prepare for the risks that are most likely to affect any given community and respond in a consistent way.
- Corrective Action Process
In order to achieve a high-quality emergency management plan, agencies must be constantly reviewing and refreshing the plan in place in order to find areas of improvement. With each exercise or real event, agencies quickly learn what works best and what may need fine-tuning. To best accomplish this initiative, agencies should complete an after action report and corrective action plan after every exercise or incident to address lessons learned. In addition, allow stakeholders to enter these into your Critical Information Management Software (CIMS) as they occur to ensure they are not forgotten.
Ensure your CIMS is highly configurable so new processes can be put in place, as needed, or changes to existing processes can be implemented quickly and easily before a future incident.
While the above concepts are not a comprehensive list, they are critical components to any emergency management plan. With threats at an all-time high, it is critical to ensure emergency management plans are in place and up to date, stakeholders are trained, and the public is informed, assuring an efficient response and recovery.