6 Points to Developing Emergency Operations Plans

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According to FEMA’s Comprehensive Planning Guide, there are six key steps in developing an Emergency Operations Plan. At each step in the planning process, emergency planners should consider the impact on required training, exercises, and equipment costs and availability.

Step 1: Form a Collaborative Team

  • Identify a Core Planning Team: Typically this includes an emergency manager or security manager, a hazard mitigation expert, local jurisdictions, and any additional available planning experts
  • Engage essential personnel in planning process to identify capabilities and resources

Step 2: Understand the Situation

  • Identify Threat and Hazards: Assess local jurisdiction’s planning framework to highlight geographical threats Facility hazards and risks can be broken down into three areas:
    • Natural Hazards
    • Technological and chemical Hazards
    • Human Hazards
  • Assess Risk: Assign probability values to threats and hazards for the purposes of determining priorities, developing processes and procedures, and allowing for informed decision-making. Understanding the consequences of a potential incident can help prioritize resources and response efforts

Step 3: Determine Goals + Objectives

  • Identify Operational Priorities: Specify desired operational outcome(s) for emergency responders, employees, and facility, and define a success for each operation
  • Set Goals and Objectives: Clearly indicate the desired result or end-state the response is intended to achieve

Step 4: Plan Development

  • Develop and Analyze Course of Action: Planners should consider requirements, goals, and objectives to develop at least two options for response. The planning team should work through a process by using tools that allow participants to visualize typical operational flow to determine best suitable procedural options
  • Identify Resources: Match available resources, both internal and external, to requirements, response obligations, and assignments. This can identify internal response shortfalls that require outside capabilities and additional response assistance
  • Identify Information and Intelligence Needs: Planners should identify the information and intelligence necessary to drive decision-making and trigger critical response actions

Step 5: Plan Preparation, Review + Approval

  • Write the Plan: The results from the priorities, goals and objective in Step 4 should provide an outline for a rough draft. As the planning team works through successive drafts, participants should add necessary supporting information, graphics, and/or photos taking note to comply with local, state and federal regulations
  • Review the Plan: Planning is a continuous process that does not stop when the plan is published. Plans should evolve as lessons are learned, new information and insights are obtained, and priorities are updated. Utilizing a web-based plan allows for simple edits and access from multiple locations, allowing for a comprehensive review, despite location of participating parties
  • Approve and Disseminate the Plan: Senior management and associated regulatory agencies typically grant emergency plan approvals. The planner should then arrange to distribute the plan to associated parties and maintain a record of the individuals/ organizations that received a copy (or copies) of the plan

Step 6: Plan Implementation + Maintenance

  • Exercise the plan: Evaluating the effectiveness of plans involves a combination of training events, exercises, and real-world incidents to determine whether the goals, objectives, decisions, actions, and timing outlined in the plan can lead to a successful and effective response
  • Review, Revise, and Maintain the Plan: Planning teams should establish a process for reviewing and revising the plan. Reviews should be an ongoing and recurring activity
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