by: Roger Mason PhD
The process of developing an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) can be daunting. This article is Part One of a series about emergency operations planning. Today we will answer five of the most common questions about Emergency Operations Plans.
What is an emergency operations plan?
An emergency operations plan is a collection of information and contingency processes and procedures that provide a game plan for an organization or government agency during a disaster or emergency. This plan gives decision makers and responders a set of guidelines to be used during a critical event. The collection of information is critical because it includes details regarding resources and systems that will be needed during the emergency. The processes and procedures specify operational guidelines for responders.
Who needs one?
Any person, organization, business, or government who may be faced with an emergency or a disaster needs an EOP. An event like a disaster or emergency means your normal operations or procedures will be disrupted. An EOP provides the quickest way to begin recovering from the critical event.
How do you use the plan?
If you equip your team with an EOP and train them to use it they will be prepared to respond to and recover from most foreseeable disasters or emergencies. Each individual section of your team will have a variety of tasks during a disaster. Organizations who have trained to employ their EOP will be able to begin the response and recovery tasks without waiting for direction.
During a disaster or emergency you may be using familiar systems in an unfamiliar way or interacting with stakeholders you normally have no contact with. A trained team with a well written EOP can avoid many of the pitfalls of operating in unfamiliar territory during a crisis.
What should be included?
Your EOP should include a plan for how you intend to manage the emergency, what resources you have, how you will access them, community care plans, how to employ the systems that will be needed during an emergency. (Note: Your community includes the people and property you are responsible for. Ex: the employees at your business, the students and staff at your school, the neighborhoods and businesses inside your city limits, etc.)
How do I start?
The first step is assessing your threats and hazards. This should include reaching out to your community stakeholders to see what threats and hazards they anticipate. Once the threat assessment is complete the next step is developing policies and procedures designed to meet the threats. This should include a plan for managing these efforts. The plan should include any information that the persons employing the plan may need in the course of the disaster.
Our next article will be by Carol Claflin about issues related to emergency operations planning for secondary institutions of higher learning. Carol will help navigate some of the challenges and questions to writing an EOP for colleges and universities. If you have questions about your EOP contact LECMgt for some advice and assistance. We can help you work through the challenges and hurdles of developing a comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan.