Developing an Emergency Response Plan
An emergency response plan (ERP) is a very important working document that is designed to ensure public institutions, private sector entities, and even the community is adequately prepared to effectively respond to, and recover from emergencies. Therefore, the plan has to be comprehensive to include federal, state, local, and even the private sector resources.
A quality ERP has several major components. Firstly, the plan should clearly outline or state its objectives. For example, a plan for a water utility should state its commitment to providing consumers with adequate quantities of clean and safe water at sufficient pressure, even when supplying water under emergency circumstances as it is their legal responsibility. The plan should also contain hazard assessment, in which it outlines all possible hazards, and their estimated likelihood and duration. Such assessment is essential in predicting whether the hazards will likely have minor, moderate, or severe impacts. The hazard assessment component should then be followed by vulnerability assessment, in which the specific effects of the hazards have to be established to identify areas of weaknesses (Reilly and Markenson 276). Mitigation measures as the fourth component of a quality ERP ensures the identified areas of weaknesses are less susceptible to harm. For instance, there is need to ensure that emergency response personnel are well trained to ensure safety during emergency. Other resources and technology essential for mitigation purposes should be mobilized.
The plan activation process is yet another key component of an ERP. As a working document, the ERP should be utilized prior to, during, and even after an emergency situation or disaster event. In most cases, such a plan is developed based on the findings of the hazard assessment, vulnerability analyses, and the mitigation measures. Therefore, the response plan has to outline the measures to be implemented to minimize the probability of an event, or lessen its impacts. When developing an ERP, three fundamental principles should be taken into consideration. Firstly, the plan should strictly use or reference existing/available resources, rather than planned ones. Secondly, the plan has to be concise and logical. Finally, it should be coordinated with other agencies because an emergency condition can have far reaching impacts across various sectors and levels, hence may call for the mobilization of private sector, local, state, and federal resources. A quality ERP should therefore contain a plan activation process, and the emergency contact list. To ensure other response organizations are involved in executing the plan, the plan should be developed in such a way that it elicits participation and commitment. This is achieved through ensuring the plan document contains pre-impact agreements with other response organizations, in which they commit themselves to respond positively when their contribution in mitigating or addressing emergency conditions is required (Lindell et al. 262)
Emergency response and recovery is also an important component of a quality ERP. The plan should clearly and logically link the emergency response efforts or activities to disaster recovery and subsequent hazard mitigation measures (Smith 350). This is because emergency response efforts normally overlap with those designed for disaster recovery. The last important component of a quality ERP is conducting thorough evaluation and training. Evaluation of the ERP should be undertaken immediately after the completion of the response plan. The evaluation is meant to identify the emergency response shortcomings to facilitate the modification of the ERP and response actions to ensure more effective emergency preparation and response in the future.
Lindell, Michael K, Ronald W. Perry, and Carla Prater. Introduction to Emergency Management. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley, 2007. Print.
Reilly, Michael J, and David S. Markenson. Health Care Emergency Management: Principles and Practice. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2011. Print.
Smith, Gavin. Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: A Review of the United States Disaster Assistance Framework. Fairfax, Va: Public Entity Risk Institute, 2011. Print.