Why Your Organization should Develop an Internal Emergency Plan
Although there is a comprehensive emergency operations plan for the City and County of Denver, the focus of the city plan is to address preparedness, response and recovery actions to major emergencies or disasters that impact the City and County of Denver as a whole. Each organization must plan for emergencies that can disrupt your operations, cause physical or environmental damage or cause death or injury to employees or customers. Unplanned events that you can prepare for include: fires, flooding, tornadoes, winter storms, power outages, computer problems (including hardware and software problems), and other events unique to your organization. This guide provides management a tool to help develop exercises and implement internal plans.
Statistics on Situations Causing Companies to Declare a Disaster
- Power Outage- 91%
- Hardware Error-77%
- Fire- 63%
- Flooding- 58%
- Earthquake- 52%
- Software Error- 44%
- Bombing- 39%
- Windstorms- 38%
- Network Failures- 23%
- Burst pipes-9%
- Hazards- 11%
- HVAC Failure- 7%
- Forced Evacuation- 7%
- Civil Unrest- 3%
[From: Disaster Recovery Journal 10/19/99]
How Do You Start?
STEP 1: ESTABLISH AN INTERNAL PLANNING TEAM
- Internal Planning Team
The size of this team will depend on the size of your operations, requirements and resources. Having a team will encourage participation and interest in this process as well as providing a broad perspective on those issues relevant to your department.
- Establish Authority
Upper management involvement promotes an atmosphere of cooperation by authorizing the planning group to take appropriate steps to develop the plan. Within the group establish clear lines of authority, without being too rigid as to limit a free flow of ideas!
- Develop a Mission Statement
The mission statement should define the purpose of the emergency plan and indicate that it will involve the entire organization. Define the structure and authority of the planning group.
- Establish a Schedule and Budget
Establish a work schedule and planning deadlines. Timelines can be modified as priorities change. Develop an initial budget for research, printing and other costs associated with developing your emergency operation plan.
STEP 2: ANALYZE CAPABILITIES AND HAZARDS
- Review Internal Plans and Policies
Documents you should review include any building evacuation and fire plans, as well as risk management plans. Review any documents relating to health safety and security procedures.
- Identify Codes and Regulations
Identify applicable federal, state, and local regulations such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, fire codes, and environmental regulations.
- Identify Critical Products, Services, and Operations
Determine the potential impact of an emergency on your organization as well as possible backup systems. Identify lifeline services ( e.g. , electricity, water, telecommunications, computer networking), and critical personnel and equipment necessary to continue your operations.
- Identify Internal Resources and Capabilities
Examples of internal resources and capabilities include identifying first aid supplies, emergency power equipment and first aid stations as well as personnel resources available to assist in evacuation or provide public information.
- Identify External Resources
Examples of external resources include 911, utilities and contractors.
- List Potential Emergencies
Consider emergencies that have occurred in your organization or the community which could affect you. Start by reviewing the history of emergencies that have taken place. Look at technological failures (e.g., HVAC, power, computer systems, telecommunications, and internal notification systems)that could impact your group. In addition, evaluate emergencies that may occur due to human error or the physical construction of a facility (e.g., lighting, layout of equipment, evacuation routes and exits.). Then identify the probability or likelihood of the emergency occurring and the impact to people, property, and the continuation of operations. Finally, assess the internal and external resources you listed. Look at possible multiple impacts of disasters. A slow rising flood can cause additional problems such as a loss of power, contamination of the water supply, interruption of transportation.
STEP 3: DEVELOP THE PLAN
Your plan should include an executive summary describing the purpose of the plan, the types of emergencies that could occur, and the authority and responsibility of key personnel within your organization.
Emergency Management Elements
Describe your organization’s approach to key elements of your plan: direction and control, communications, life safety, property protection, recovery and restoration, and administration and logistics.
Emergency Response Procedures
The procedures spell out how your department or agency will respond to emergencies. One approach is to develop a series of checklists that can be quickly utilized by personnel at your location. You need to determine what actions should be taken to assess the situation, protect employees, customers and visitors, vital records and other assets, and keep operations going. Specific procedures may be needed for a variety of situations including:
- Bomb Threats
- Conducting an Evacuation
- Protecting Vital Records
- Warning Customers and Employees
- Restoring Operations
- Communicating with Responders
- Supporting Documents
- Documents that should be cataloged include emergency call lists and personnel in your organization who should be involved in responding to emergencies.
- Building and Site Maps- Indicate utility shutoffs, electrical cutoffs, gas and water main lines, floor plans, alarms and enunciators, fire suppression systems, exits, stairways, designated escape routes, and restricted areas.
STEP 4: EXERCISE THE PLAN
Prior to Implementing the Plan, we recommend that your agency look at holding a tabletop exercise to test the plan prior to formal implementation. The following is an approach you may want to use.
1) Select several objectives you wish to exercise. Objectives are outcomes you want to evaluate.
You can inform the players at the tabletop exercise of those objectives.
2) Select a relevant scenarios messages. Examples of possible scenarios include: reduced or complete failure of electrical power, file servers or personal computers failures, telecommunication lines disruptions, and corruption of data.
3) The agenda of the tabletop will include: an overview of the objectives, introduction of the participants (and the roles they’re playing), presentation of the scenario, and an evaluation of the plan and strategies as used by the players during the scenario play. Review key issues brought up during the exercise including the corrective actions and responsible parties.
4) Tabletop rules often apply as follows: everyone is free to contribute, this is not a test but an exercise, the scenario can be changed as needed, and the facilitator can table any issue for later resolution.
5) A facilitator’s primary responsibility is to ensure the tabletop exercise proceeds on schedule and covers the objectives outlined prior to the start of the exercise.
If planned properly, tabletop exercises are usually a cost-effective method of testing plans and procedures. The most common feedback is that the exercise either demonstrated the viability of the plan or captured issues which will improve the plan. In addition, attendees appreciate the clarification of roles and responsibilities during exercise play. The tabletop exercise will often show a need to update or modify the plan. You may determine a need to modify duty assignments or procedures, and update call down lists and resource lists. It may even be necessary to modify a persons duties and responsibilities or add backup personnel.
STEP 5: IMPLEMENT THE PLAN
Implementation means more than simply exercising the plan. Act on recommendations made during the vulnerability analysis, train employees, and evaluate the plan.
Self-Assessment on Disaster Recovery Planning
- Do you know the critical equipment, forms, or supplies that would need to be replaced in a disaster situation? YES___ NO___
- Do you know what other agencies would be affected by an interruption in your organization? YES___ NO___
- Do you know what outside services/vendors are relied upon for normal operation? YES___ NO___
- Do you know your current backup procedures? YES___ NO___
- Do you know if any critical backups are stored offsite? YES___ NO___
- Do you know the temporary operating procedures in case of disaster? YES___ NO___
- Do you know the high priority tasks and procedures in your department? YES___ NO___
- Do you know what staffing, equipment, forms and supplies are needed to perform high priority tasks? YES___ NO___
- Do you know who is responsible for maintaining the department’s contingency plan? YES___ NO___
- Do you know the lines of succession in your department for individuals to act in authority for the department? YES___ NO___
- Do you have a clear understanding of your authority and responsibility in your organization’s emergency operations plan? YES___ NO___