In previous articles we've discussed incident management plans, crisis communication plans, disaster recovery plans and business continuity plans. We have also provided templates to help you develop plans of your own.
In this tutorial, we'll examine what's needed to prepare an emergency management plan that addresses not only the initial incident response but also the longer term support needed to manage the emergency to a suitable conclusion. Read our guide on emergency management planning below, and then download our free emergency management plan template to get started.
Emergency management plan template: Table of contents
>> What is an emergency management program?
>> Emergency management standards
>> Emergency management definitions
>> The impact of emergency management on business continuity
>> An emergency management template
An emergency management program is a jurisdiction-wide system that provides the management and coordination of prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery activities for all hazards; the system encompasses all organizations, agencies, departments, entities and individuals responsible for emergency management and homeland security functions.
Initial responses to the situation are handled by an incident management (IM) process, which is usually part of an overall emergency management program. IM actions assess the incident and determine its severity and potential for elimination, containment or expansion. If the incident isn't likely to be quickly suppressed, and is likely to continue and possibly expand, the emergency management program (and its associated teams) activates procedures to mitigate incident severity, duration and impact. The goal is to manage the incident through to its containment and resolution.
Based on numerous events, such as Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina, the nation's leaders recognized the need to strengthen disaster response capabilities at the local, tribal, regional, state and national level. To facilitate this, two national standards for emergency management were created.
The principal standards used in emergency management are National Fire Protection Association Standard No.1600 and the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) Standard. The EMAP document is a scalable yet rigorous national standard for state/territorial, local, regional and tribal government emergency management programs. NFPA 1600, 2010 Edition, addresses emergency management and business continuity for the public and private sectors. EMAP builds upon and leverages existing standardized documents, such as the National Incident Management System (NIMS), to create an emergency management framework.
In this article and the associated template, we will use the EMAP standard as the foundation for an emergency management program and its associated plans.
The EMAP standard includes the following definitions:
Disaster -- Severe or prolonged incident which threatens life, property, environment or critical systems.
Emergency -- An incident, natural or human caused, that requires responsive actions to protect life, property, environment, or critical systems.
Emergency management program -- A jurisdiction-wide system that provides for management and coordination of prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery activities for all hazards; the system encompasses all organizations, agencies, departments, entities and individuals responsible for emergency management and homeland security functions.
Incident management system -- An incident management system is formalized and institutionalized and addresses the principles of command and basic functions of planning, operations, logistics, finance and administration. An incident management system is modular, scalable, interactive and flexible; it includes common terminology, manageable span of control, unified command, consolidated action plans, multi-agency coordination and integrated communications.
The EMAP standard defines the four components of emergency management in the following:
Mitigation -- The activities designed to reduce or eliminate risks to persons or property or to lessen the actual or potential effects or consequences of a disaster. Mitigation measures may be implemented prior to, during or after a disaster. Mitigation measures are often informed by lessons learned from prior disasters. Mitigation involves ongoing actions to reduce exposure to, probability of, or potential loss from hazards.
Preparedness -- The range of deliberate, critical tasks and activities necessary to build, sustain and improve the operational capability to prevent, protect against, mitigate against, respond to and recover from disasters; preparedness is a continuous process.
Response -- Efforts to minimize the short-term direct effects of an incident threatening life, property, environment or critical systems.
Recovery -- The development, coordination, and execution of plans for the restoration of impacted communities and government operations and services through individual, private-sector, non governmental and public assistance.
Good business continuity practice, as endorsed by organizations like the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) and DRI International (DRII), includes emergency management as a key part of the overall business continuity management process. A well-organized emergency management team (EMT) using a well-structured and vigorously tested emergency management plan can help speed to recovery from disruptive events. In many cases, the EMT's efforts can help the company quickly return to normal.
Some key emergency management points:
- Keep it relatively simple. A well organized, step-by-step plan with relevant information at your fingertips will help you get through most incidents; use of frameworks like the Incident Command System (ICS) can provide the organizational structure needed.
- Communicate regularly on status of the emergency. Provide the relevant facts as they are available, disseminate them quickly, follow up regularly, keep relevant parties informed, and resolve incorrect information.
- Review and test. Once an emergency management program and its associated plans are complete, review and exercise them to ensure that the documented procedures make sense and the team is equipped to respond according to the plans.
- Be flexible. An emergency management plan should be sufficiently flexible so it can adapt quickly to changing situations
The associated emergency management plan template provides a useful starting point for developing your own emergency management program and associated emergency management plans.
Be sure to review your emergency management plan with various internal organizations, such as facilities management, legal, risk management, and key operational units. Also, if possible, invite local first responder agencies to review emergency management program/plans.
SearchDisasterRecovery's free template provides a framework for building a full emergency management program or simply an emergency management plan. Download the template, and then follow the steps below.
1. Begin with the following elements for the program framework:
- Program administration
- Administration and finance
- Laws and authorities
- Hazard identification
- Hazard mitigation
- Prevention and security
- Planning process
- Incident management
- Resource management and logistics
- Mutual aid activities
- Communications and warning
- Operations and procedures
- Exercises, evaluations and corrective actions
- Crisis communications, public education and information
2. Select the above elements you wish to include in your initiative, and refer to the subsections in each area for further definition of the activities. Use some or all of the elements above; that decision is based on how you wish to build your program/plan.
3. Use the information provided in each subsection to help you structure your activities.
4. Build out detail for each of the areas you include in your program/plan, based on program elements and associated subsections.
5. Compare your program/plan structure against the EMAP standard; you may also want to evaluate your program/plan against NFPA 1600:2010, which provides an excellent emergency management structure.
6. Be sure to discuss your program/plan with local first responders as their input can be valuable to your success. They will also be aware of how you plan to respond in an emergency, which will help them as they respond to that emergency.
7. Exercise the program/plan with your employees, emergency team(s) and first responders if possible.
8. Establish periodic review/audits of the program/plan to ensure it is up to date and ready for use.
Developing an emergency management program requires company management and a proactive policy regarding how the firm will deal with emergencies. Keys to success include step-by-step emergency management procedures, staff trained in emergency management, pre-written forms for various activities, such as ordering emergency supplies; periodic program and plan audits and exercises, and program/plan maintenance.
About this author: Paul Kirvan, CISA, CSSP, FBCI, CBCP, has more than 20 years experience in business continuity management as a consultant, author and educator. He has been directly involved with dozens of IT/telecom consulting and audit engagements ranging from governance program development, program exercising, execution and maintenance, and RFP preparation and response. Kirvan currently works as an independent business continuity consultant/auditor and is the secretary of the Business Continuity Institute USA chapter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.