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Expert Insight on Incident Response Drills and Tabletop Exercises

  
  
  

There are various types of types of emergency response drills and exercises that target specific goals. They can range from small group discussions to complex, multi-faceted exercises. But each drill or exercise presents the opportunity to improve site-specific response plans, rendering the potential for a more effective response.

Response plan testing can begin with simple exercises intended to validate general response plan comprehension or incorporate an all-inclusive, full-scale, realistic, multi-scenario exercise. Managers should determine the goals of the exercise before settling on a particular method. To fully execute a response plan, synergistic drills or exercises should be developed to assess the following critical response skills:

  • Communication
  • Training
  • Resource management
  • Teamwork

An exercise should prepared employees and responders to minimize the impacts of an incident. Below are three of the most basic exercises.

1. Orientations: The purpose of an orientation is to familiarize participants with roles, responsibilities, plans, procedures, and equipment. Orientations can resolve questions of coordination and assignment of responsibilities. The inclusion of first responders and facility staff promotes the development of an effective plan.

2. Drills: The goal of a drill is to practice aspects of the response plan and prepare teams and participants for more extensive exercises in the future. A drill can test a specific operation or function of the response plan.  Facilities should conduct evacuations, shelter in place, and lockdown drills to demonstrate emergency response actions. Drills can be altered to incorporate various scenario situations. The procedures, individual responsibilities, and public safety coordination may be addressed depending on the presented scenario or outcome of the drill.

emergency response drill - TRP CORP

3. Tabletop Exercises: A tabletop exercise simulates an emergency situation in an informal, stress-free environment.  The participants, usually comprised of decision-making level staff and responders, gather to discuss simulated procedures and general problems/solutions in the context of an emergency scenario.  The focus is on training and familiarization with roles, procedures, and responsibilities relative to the emergency synopsis and potential injects.

Below is a list of common tabletop exercise planning considerations:

Condensed Exercise Time Frame: In order to exercise the emergency scenario, the exercise must progress in a condensed timeframe (not real-time). Events should move rapidly through the phases of the exercised response. However, it should be clearly understood that under real conditions the same events or actions might require additional time to complete. Conversely, real world scenarios can quickly change and transition from a basic emergency to a full scale crisis within a short time frame that require rapid decision making and expeditious responses.

Scenario Information and Position-Specific Tools: Detailed scenario information, ICS forms, and position specific events should be prepared to guide all participants through the execution of their roles and responsibilities. These tools should be included in a participation package and distributed to all participants prior to the exercise. A web-based drill and exercise management tool can streamline the distribution of these tools.

Weather Conditions: Depending on the scenario and if the weather is a critical factor, either real or simulated weather conditions may be utilized during the exercise.

“This is a Drill” Exercise Communications: All radio, telephone, fax and written communications must begin and end with the statement "This is a Drill".  Include this statement in all verbal communications, and in a prominent location on all written correspondence, including report forms, fax communications, and press releases. It may be helpful to add the date to any written documentation for organizational and regulatory compliance purposes.

Communications with external agencies, contractors, medical responders, or other parties not participating directly in an exercise must begin and end with the statement, "This is a Drill". This may involve state or federal regulatory notifications or contact with suppliers or vendors to source simulated logistical needs. In all cases, exercise participants must ensure that the all involved parties clearly understand that no actual emergency exists, and no resources or equipment should be mobilized or dispatched.

Response Equipment Deployment: Emergency equipment and vehicles should be simulated for tabletop exercises. Staging area locations should be identified.

Injects: Injects may be provided to some participants or as a component of the exercise. An inject describes an additional event or circumstance that requires a response or action from the participant.

Exercise Termination and Debriefing: Following termination of the exercise, a debriefing of all exercise participants should be conducted.  All participants should have the opportunity to provide feedback on the exercise and complete an exercise evaluation form. Feedback should be evaluated for potential response plan mitigation opportunities.

Follow-up on Action Items: Exercises may provide insight into the deficiencies in an emergency response plan. In order to take response efforts to the next level, action items resulting from the exercises should be completed in a timely manner.

For a free download entitled, "Tips on How to Conduct an Effective Exercise", click the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

 

Tips for Facility Security Planning and Training

  
  
  

Managing the Facility Security Plan (FSP) related administrative duties and associated training requirements can be time-consuming and complex, particularly for large companies. With multiple, dynamic, and security-related response planning variables, many large companies implement a response planning system with a training and exercises management component. Advanced web-based systems can ease the burdens of training documentation, scheduling, and maintenance while verifying regulatory compliance. Managing an enterprise-wide security training program can be complicated by:

  • Multiple fluctuating certification/expiration dates
  • Diverse and varying scope of responder/employee responsibilities
  • Site-specific operations and response objectives
  • Maintaining company standards and best practice priorities
  • Regulatory compliance measures
  • Multiple facilities across several locations
  • Employee turnover

A FSP and those facilities required to comply with U.S. Coast Guard’s (USCG) 40 CFR 105 regulation should include site-specific details on the following components:

Notification: The Facility Security Officer must have a means to effectively notify facility personnel of changes in security conditions at a facility. Transportation security incidents are reported to the National Response Center and to appropriate emergency responders. At each active facility access point, a system must be in place to allow communication with authorities with security responsibilities, including the police, security control, and the emergency operations center.

Fencing and monitoring: The FSP must describe security measures to prevent unauthorized access to cargo storage areas, including continuous monitoring through a combination of lighting, security guards, and other methods.

Evacuation: The owner or operator must identify the location of escape and evacuation routes and assembly stations to ensure that personnel are able to evacuate during security threats.

Assessment: The Facility Security Assessment requires description of the layout of the facility, and response procedures for emergency conditions, threat assessment, and vulnerabilities, with a focus on areas at the facility that may be vulnerable to a security threat, such as utility equipment and services vital to operations.

facility security plan - TRP CORP

Training: A security plan should describe the training, drills, and security actions of persons at the facility. These actions should deter, to the maximum extent practicable, a transportation security incident, or a substantial security threat. If a facility is required to comply with §105.210, facility personnel with security duties must be trained in the following: (Note: These guidelines are also beneficial to facilities not required to comply with the USCG’s 40 CFR part 105 requirement)

  • Knowledge of current security threats and patterns
  • Recognition and detection of dangerous substances and devices
  • Recognition of characteristics and behavioral patterns of persons who are likely to threaten security
  • Techniques used to circumvent security measures
  • Crowd management and control techniques
  • Security related communications
  • Knowledge of emergency procedures and contingency plans
  • Operation of security equipment and systems
  • Testing, calibration, and maintenance of security equipment and systems
  • Inspection, control, and monitoring techniques
  • Relevant provisions of the FSP

Proper documentation is a critical aspect of any emergency management program. If a facility is required to comply with the USCG’s 40 CFR part 105 regulations, certain documentation is required to be available at the facility and made available to the USCG upon request. A web-based planning system can ensure plan documentation is available from various locations and can expedite plan distribution. The USCG’s 40 CFR 105 requires the following documentation:  

  1. The approved FSP, as well as any approved revisions or amendments thereto, and a letter of approval from the COTP dated within the last 5 years.
  2. The FSP submitted for approval and an acknowledgement letter from the COTP stating that the USCG is currently reviewing the FSP submitted for approval, and that the facility may continue to operate so long as the facility remains in compliance with the submitted FSP.
  3. For facilities operating under a USCG-approved Alternative Security Program as provided in §105.140, a copy of the Alternative Security Program the facility is using, including a facility specific security assessment report generated under the Alternative Security Program, as specified in §101.120(b)(3), and a letter signed by the facility owner or operator, stating which Alternative Security Program the facility is using and certifying that the facility is in full compliance with that program.

For a free download entitled, "Tips on How to Conduct an Effective Exercise", click the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

 

How to Manage Preparedness Training for Multiple Downstream Facilties

  
  
  

Luck runs out, but safety is good for life.  ~Author Unknown

Whether an industrial facility is domestically located or abroad, ensuring compliance, employee safety, and an effective response requires a comprehensive training and exercise program. All training and exercise components within a corporate enterprise should address site-specific operations, appropriate response processes, standardized company-wide best practices, and maintain location-specific regulatory compliance.

The challenge of managing and ensuring compliant training programs for multiple facilities and various regulatory agencies is complex. Certification efforts, enforcement mandates, and costly non-compliance fines may result from the lack of implemented, thorough, or effective programs. By utilizing available technology to manage an enterprise-wide training approach, companies can verify compliance and response readiness through a cohesive, yet site-specific standardization of best practices.

Through proper maintenance of a training portal, individuals will remain at peak optimal response capabilities. Training should include, but not be limited to:

  • Response plan familiarization
  • Individual roles and responsibilities
  • Plan review training whenever a substantial change or revision is made to the plan that affects organization, procedures, roles and responsibilities, or response capability.
  • Refresher courses, as necessary

Mid to large size companies should implement a preparedness and response training management system with the ability to identify and sort specialized data. When a company has multiple facilities, a centralized web-based database of scheduled, lapsed, and completed training enable facility managers to focus their efforts on operations and profitability. With a comprehensive, web-based, database-driven training management system, emergency managers and health, safety, and environmental departments can:

  1. Simplify training reviews
  2. Easily identify training inception and expiration dates
  3. Verify responder knowledge and ensure employee accountability
  4. Identify regulatory compliance training gaps
  5. Account for preparedness endeavors and associated costs
  6. Ease maintenance and administrative efforts

Training management System - TRP CORP

For companies looking to systematically manage the training and development of their staff, an enterprise-wide training management system is critical. Managing several disparate systems and multiple paper files is cumbersome and time consuming. Maintaining training information in a single, consolidated system provides significant benefits. A web-based training management system provides authorized users with secured access from a variety of locations. As facilities are added or modified, operations are revised, or employees are re-assigned, training records can be conveniently added, accessed, transferred, or updated for accuracy and compliance. A comprehensive, web-based training management system will:

  • Reduce the need for multiple site training management and documentation
  • Minimize administrative costs
  • Minimize training discrepancies across an enterprise
  • Provide a historical record of training certifications
  • Streamline training directives from one source
  • Serve as a legal instrument, if necessary
  • Engage management in prioritizing preparedness efforts
  • Enhance reporting functionality
  • Identify regulatory compliance training gaps

Training administration can be time-consuming and difficult, particularly in medium to large companies with staff employed in different roles across a variety of physical locations. A customized training management system can streamline this administrative effort, making it easy to ensure staff members receive the appropriate training, and instructors are supported with the necessary resources. A comprehensive system can

  • Track and report training completion or status by discipline, skill, position, individual, location, or over a specific time period
  • Generate summary reports that provide a snapshot of various mandated training versus completed and scheduled events
  • Print automated certifications and wallet cards

Advanced web-based technologies can also facilitate online training and provide classroom resources. While it is not essential to implementing web-based training, it can reduce costs associated with classroom instruction.  Some web-based training solutions include tools to share critical training information and lesson plans with students, reducing the time required to duplicate and distribute training materials across an enterprise.

While optimizing training is critical for regulatory compliance and safety, cost is always a deciding factor. Implementing a customized training management system in highly regulated environments is a proactive, cost-savings measure that can reduce the overall costs associated with incidents, training maintenance, and non-compliance.

For a free download entitled, "Tips on How to Conduct an Effective Exercise", click the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

 

Documenting Oil and Gas Emergency Response Drills and Exercises

  
  
  

Amidst the business of sustaining profitable operations, oil and gas companies must ensure that work conditions are safe. Oil and gas operations have innate risks, hazards, and, in the event of a release or spill, potential detrimental impacts. As a result, regulatory agencies require response drills and exercises that adequately reflect the current operations and emergency response capabilities.

The National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) is designed to facilitate the periodic testing of oil spill response plans for certain vessels and facilities, and provide companies an economically feasible mechanism for exercise compliance. This unified federal effort provides a consistent set of guidelines that satisfies the exercise requirements of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSSE). Completion and documentation of the PREP exercises satisfies all OPA 90 mandated federal oil pollution response exercise requirements.

Drill frequency and specific requirements vary depending on operations, vulnerabilities, facility location, and site hazards. However, documentation of oil and gas emergency preparedness drills and exercises is mandated by various regulatory agencies. Thorough documentation also:

  • Identifies deficiencies and mitigation opportunities
  • Provides a historical record of the event
  • Engages management in preparedness efforts
  • Serves as a legal instrument, if necessary
  • Ensures training accountability
  • Accounts for preparedness efforts and plan maintenance cost

Oil and Gas Emergency Response Planning - TRP

In order to satisfy the PREP requirement, oil and gas companies must be able to document all operational and support aspects of a response, and provide detailed records of decisions and actions taken. An exercise tracking system that is integrated into an overall response planning system can minimize the documentation efforts associated with drills and exercises. A tracking system should:

  • Improve regulatory compliance with thorough documentation·
  • Provide a tool for scheduling exercises, and documenting PREP objectives, exercise objectives, lessons learned, scenarios, and action items.
  • Provide a tool for developing exercise final reports and a method of assigning and tracking outstanding action items to improve follow-up.
  • Provide a reporting mechanism to track PREP objectives completed during any 3 year cycle, outstanding action items, and a summary report by facility that indicates progress in meeting PREP exercise requirements.
  • Provide a “snapshot” of exercises completed for the year for every facility via a summary report.

To ensure employees and identified essential response personnel are prepared to respond to an incident in an efficient and effective manner, oil and gas companies should establish minimum exercise guideline requirements. Management should ensure that:

  • All aspects of response plans are exercised at least once per year with the appropriate response, incident management, and support teams taking part.
  • Notification exercises for Qualified Individuals are conducted on a quarterly basis. This exercise should involve unannounced checks of the communication processes, and systems.
  • National and local training and exercise requirements should be used to assess the overall integrated preparedness of a response with the authorities.

If not physically present during a drill and/or exercise, the final documentation from the events can be submitted to local responders or fire marshals for review. If a web-based planning system is utilized, drill and exercise documentation can be securely shared and accessed by approved stakeholders. In the event of an actual incident, the lessons learned from these drills and exercises can minimize impacts and prevent further consequences.

For a free download entitled, "Tips on How to Conduct an Effective Exercise", click the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

 

Expert Insight on Emergency Response Tabletop Exercises and Scenarios

  
  
  

Emergency response training simulations are an integral part of a sound emergency management program. Exercises offer training opportunities for responders to strengthen their capacity for responding to various site-specific emergencies. By facilitating different types of drills and exercises, facilities can identify the appropriate methods for preventing, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from crises.

Real world exercise scenarios can often highlight potential deficiencies in response plans, individual comprehension of response roles and responsibilities, and partnership coordination efforts. Deficiencies often reveal mitigation opportunities and valuable response knowledge that can be applied to response plans and an actual emergency response situations.

There are various types of emergency drills and exercises for response training and planning validation. Companies can test response plans with simple orientations and drills, and work their way toward full-scale exercises, inclusive of multiple components and coordinated efforts.

A tabletop exercise is one of the simplest type of comprehensive exercises to conduct in terms of planning, preparation, and coordination. It should facilitate analyses of an emergency situation and the most effective processes to respond and recover. The informal, stress-free environment should be designed to prompt constructive discussions about existing emergency response plans as participants identify, investigate and resolve issues. The success of the exercise is mainly determined by the identification of problem areas, and applying applicable corrections.

These exercises should replicate realistic and site-specific emergency scenarios that allow participants to increase their awareness of roles and responsibilities required to respond, stabilize, terminate, and recover from emergencies. In preparation for these exercises, companies should develop exercise planning documents, including participant's and controller’s packages that contain exercise objectives, scenarios, ground rules, and simulation scripts. These guidelines, at a minimum, should be provided to all participants prior to the exercise to allow for a thorough examination of exercise expectations. A training and exercise management system can streamline and simplify the documentation and administrative duties associated with exercises planning.

tabletop exercise - TRP Corp

The goal of a tabletop exercise program should be to improve the overall readiness and capabilities of emergency response program that encourages:

  • Realistic scenarios
  • Proper training validation
  • Effective emergency plans
  • Action item identification
  • Operational response capabilities
  • Personnel preparedness to respond to incidents, regardless of the threat or hazard

The Department of Homeland Security addresses four types of exercise scenarios used in risk management and emergency planning:

1. Basic Scenario:  Provides basic information about one specific variable or risk, such as internal or external hazard, attack type, or potential target. Scenarios can be used to establish response parameters and instructions based on a singular applicable variable (Ex: tank 101 fire or leak at a loading dock).

2. Narrative Scenario: Story-like, highly detailed scenarios with many fixed factors. Narrative drills are typically used for planning purposes rather than risk analysis. Narratives identify characteristics of a scenario, detailed background information, and each components of the scenario.

3. Visual Modeling:  Highly structured scenarios that display multiple potential variables of an emergency situation. Depending on the level of detail, visual models can become highly comprehensive and complex. The Department of Homeland Security identifies three methods of visual planning: attack paths, fault trees and event trees.

Attack paths: A systematic method that examines the sequence of events that occurred prior to the incident.

Fault trees: A detailed, deductive tool is used to assess the ill-fated sequence of events that led to the incident. A fault tree highlights potential hazards and ineffective processes.

Event trees: Assess the components it takes to respond and recover from an incident. Event trees highlight the necessary planning initiatives required to counteract the incident.

4. Future Scenario: Speculative narratives that consider how trends, such as social media usage or global warming, will impact future risks. This scenario can to identify “future-state” planning strategies against a range of alternative risk possibilities.

For a free download entitled, "Tips on How to Conduct an Effective Exercise", click the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

 

 

Compliance Tips for Industrial Emergency Management Exercise Programs

  
  
  

The National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) is a unified federal effort established to provide a consistent set of guidelines that satisfies the exercise requirements of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement in an economically feasible manner.

The intent is to create a workable exercise program which meets section 4202(a) of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 amending section 311(j) of the Federal Water Pollution 6 Control Act, by adding a new subsection for spill response preparedness (33 USC 1321(j)(7)). Facilities and vessels required to adhere to these regulations must establish a compliant exercise program to ensure an adequate response to an oil spill.

Plan holders may develop a customized exercise program based on site operations or utilize the PREP exercise guidelines. The program must comply with the appropriate Federal oversight agency and regulatory exercise requirements. In order to maintain PREP compliance, all core components of a response plan must be exercised every three years. However, it is not required to conduct a major exercise every three years. PREP compliance can be obtained by exercising individual components within in a three-year cycle. The exercises must incorporate the following core PREP components:

  1. Notifications
  2. Staff mobilization
  3. Ability to operate within the response management system described in the Plan
  4. Discharge prevention/control
  5. Assessment of discharge
  6. Containment of discharge
  7. Recovery of spilled material
  8. Protection of sensitive areas
  9. Disposal of recovered material and contaminated debris
  10. Communications
  11. Transportation
  12. Personnel support
  13. Equipment maintenance and support
  14. Procurement
  15. Documentation

Exercise Management Program - TRP

Exercises should be designed to test the aforementioned response plan components for effectiveness and accuracy. In order to satisfy the PREP requirement, plan holders must be able to document all operational and support aspects of a response, and provide detailed records of decisions and actions taken. Exercise requirements vary depending on operations. Vessels, unmanned barges, and certain identified facilities each have specific exercise requirements. Generally, the types of exercises required include:

1. Qualified Individual (QI) notification exercises: The purpose of the QI notification exercise is to ensure that the QI (or designee) listed in the response plan will respond as expected and carry out his or her required duties in a spill response emergency. Contact by telephone or electronic messaging must be made with the QI, and confirmation must be received from him or her to satisfy the requirements of this exercise. At least once per year, the QI notification exercise should be conducted during non-business hours.

2. Emergency procedures exercises: The purpose of the emergency procedures exercises is to ensure that personnel are capable of conducting the initial actions necessary to mitigate the effects of a spill. Specific regulations apply to vessels and unmanned barges. USCG and EPA Marine Transportation-Related Facilities have the option of conducting emergency procedures exercises. For the purpose of the PREP, emergency procedures for facilities are the procedures established to mitigate or prevent any discharge or a substantial discharge threat resulting from facility operational activities associated with cargo transfers. An unannounced emergency procedures exercise would satisfy the facility's requirement for the annual unannounced exercise.

3. Equipment deployment exercises: The purpose of equipment deployment exercises is to ensure response equipment is appropriate for the operating environment and that operating personnel are trained in its deployment and operation. It is not necessary to deploy every piece and type of equipment as long as all equipment is included in a periodic inspection and maintenance program. The inspection and maintenance program should ensure that the equipment remains in good working order.

4. Spill Management Team (SMT) tabletop exercises: At least one SMT Tabletop Exercises in a triennial cycle should involve a worst-case discharge scenario. If a response plan lists different types of SMTs for varying spill sizes (ex, a local SMT for small spills, a regional team for larger spills, and a national team for major spills), each team identified should be required to conduct an annual SMT tabletop exercise.

For a free download entitled, "Tips on How to Conduct an Effective Exercise", click the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

 

Tips for Managing Corporate Emergency Management Training Programs

  
  
  

The ability to schedule, communicate, develop, document, and deliver training is a critical aspect of your environmental, health, safety and emergency response program. Training familiarizes employees and responders with safety and emergency procedures, equipment, and systems, and can identify deficiencies and mitigation opportunities in emergency response planning programs.

Managing the administrative duties associated with training requirements can be time consuming and complex, particularly for large companies. With the multiple variables associated with training, many large companies implement a training and exercise management system. An emergency response planning system with a training component can ease the burdens of documentation, scheduling, and maintenance. Managing an enterprise-wide training program can be complicated by:

  • Multiple fluctuating certification/expiration dates
  • Diverse and varying scope of responder/employee responsibilities
  • Site-specific operations and response objectives
  • Maintaining company standards and best practice priorities
  • Regulatory compliance measures
  • Multiple facilities across several locations
  • Employee turnover

Accurate and verifiable training documentation enables response plans and procedures to be implemented as intended. Training topics and specialized training includes, but is not limited to:

  • Hazard and risk assessment techniques
  • Selection criteria of proper personal protective equipment
  • Incident reporting
  • Instruction and procedures for using personal protective and emergency equipment
  • Evacuation and alarm procedures
  • Specific roles and responsibilities in according to response scenarios (i.e. fire, explosion, severe weather)
  • An understanding of the role of the first responder in an emergency (i.e.  First Responder Operations Level)
  • Basic control, containment and/or confinement operations within the capabilities of the resources available
  • Relevant standard operating procedures and termination procedures
  • Principles of the Incident Command System

Training and exercise administrative requirements may be dictated by company policy, site operations, hazardous material response needs, or governmental agencies. In addition to yearly response plan reviews and scheduled updates; training documentation modifications may be required:

  • After each training drill or exercise
  • After each emergency
  • When personnel or response tasks change
  • When the layout or design of the facility changes
  • When policies or procedures change

HSE training - TRP CORP

Continual administrative duties associated with personnel training documentation may be timely or inadequately performed, jeopardizing regulatory compliance or the sustainability of an optimal emergency management program. Maximizing efficiency through advancements in technology can minimize administrative maintenance time. An enterprise-wide training and exercise management system can:

  • Improve regulatory compliance by comparing actual training dates to required training frequencies
  • Reduces costs by incorporating all training and exercise records and documentation into an existing database already being utilized for your emergency planning system.
  • Provide reporting tools to identify personnel requiring training, generate lists of completed training per person, and  document all training completed.
  • Automatically generate training agenda and certificates  for each scheduled training session
  • Simplify communication to attendees by generating emails regarding training requirement reminders, class agendas,
  • Initiate scheduled training requirement reminders to each facility. A comprehensive system will allow for developing a customized email message that will be automatically sent to a list of personnel for a selected time period (example monthly).

Technology has bolstered the availability and popularity of online training. However, depending on the certification, trainees often must complete corresponding classroom training offered by a local government agency such as the emergency management agency, fire or police department. But regardless of the training format, employers must document certifications and verify site-specific response comprehension.

Companies should require annual site-specific training, and routinely implement unannounced emergency drills and scheduled response exercises. Annual refresher training should cover current industry and in-house emergency operating experience; changes in emergency operations plans, policies, procedures, and equipment; as well as, familiarize employees and responders with response procedures, equipment, and systems. Annual training events can be used as a trigger for discussions and feedback on the company’s emergency management program, drills, and exercises. These discussions often cultivate an environment of safety and preparedness, identify mitigation opportunities, and possibly, training deficiencies.

For a free download entitled, "Tips on How to Conduct an Effective Exercise", click the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

 

Post Acquisition Checklist for the Emergency Manager

  
  
  

Emergency response plans should be reviewed annually, at a minimum. However, when facility acquisitions occur, companies must initiate the process of developing site-specific emergency response plan(s).  Newly acquired facilities must be analyzed for operational hazards, site-specific risks, response capabilities, and regulatory requirements as soon as possible. A post acquisition checklist should include emergency management components that ensure new facilities are able to effectively respond in case of an emergency.

At a minimum, a post acquisition checklist should incorporate the following five emergency management components:

1. Audit

Audits should verify that response plans have been effectively developed for each potential scenario and satisfy all applicable regulatory requirements. Whether conducted by in-house professionals or experienced consultants, audits can often reveal mitigation opportunities, response inadequacies, plan inconsistencies, and gaps in regulatory compliance.

All regulatory requirements should be met. These are typically based  on location(s), industry, operations, and hazards. At a minimum, an audit of newly acquired facilities should include:

  • Evaluation of  operations for compliance
  • Checking accuracy of plan content
  • Identification of required training and confirm necessary documentation
  • Review of plan approval and submittal process

2. Response team details

Forming a response team and assigning responsibilities is one of the crucial steps in emergency response planning. Individuals should be selected based on authority level and experience, and should be trained for their expected, site-specific tasks. The more knowledgeable individuals are of their response team roles and responsibilities, the better prepared a team can be to implement a streamlined response in the event of an emergency. At the minimum, response team implementation should:

  • Identify Incident Commander and other  response team members
  • Verify the new response team organizational chart
  • Identify site-specific response team activation measures
  • Create response team roles and responsibilities checklists

3. Contact information verification

Confirming the accuracy of response plan notifications is critical. Unfortunately, the contact verification step is often neglected. When new plans are developed, it is essential that contact numbers be verified for accuracy. When response time is of the essence, a response should never be prolonged because of inaccurate or out of service contact information. If companies utilize an automated call out system, important information may not be received if contact information is incorrect.

Contact verification procedures should be implemented to solidify the accuracy of all contact information, including  email addresses, cell phone numbers, and landlines for all stakeholders listed in the plan.

Safety Planning - TRP Corp

4. Training requirements

When new facilities are acquired, a training evaluation can highlight established or necessary response training programs, and reveal inadequacies, mitigation opportunities, and misaligned objectives. The following can be used to evaluate and implement training program priorities:

  1. Emphasize the basic and program-specific training and refresher requirements
  2. Designate a single point of contact to be responsible for training compliance
  3. Strengthen controls over the training process to ensure that credentials are only issued to those who demonstrate training requirement completion
  4. Identify specific training requirements applicable to positions and perform cyclical training audits
  5. Amend existing external cooperative agreements to require training compliance with response position descriptions
  6. Correct limitations in the Emergency Management system, such as populating the system with a complete list of training requirements and enabling certificates to be uploaded into the system
  7. Develop and implement a monitoring and oversight program to better manage and assess training requirements, reports, supervisory oversight, and compliance
  8. Confirm documentation methods

5. Exercise the plan

A true test of an emergency plan is best conducted through emergency drills and exercises. Designing and conducting exercises is time consuming, but valuable for training, assessing the state of your program, and identifying gaps and deficiencies that should be addressed prior to experiencing an actual emergency. The following criteria should be evaluated when exercising the effectiveness and accuracy of a response plan and corresponding processes:

  • Prevention or Deterrence: The ability to detect, prevent, preempt, and deter incidents or emergencies.
  • Infrastructure Protection: The ability to protect critical infrastructure from site-specific threats and hazards.
  • Preparedness: The ability to plan, organize, and equip personnel to perform assigned response missions under various conditions and scenarios.
  • Emergency Assessment/Diagnosis: The ability to achieve and maintain a common operating structure, including the ability to detect an incident, assess impact, and initiate notifications.
  • Emergency Management/Response: The ability to control, collect, and contain a hazard, minimize its effects, and conduct environmental monitoring. Mitigation efforts may be implemented before, during, or after an incident
  • Incident Command System (ICS):  The ability to direct, control, and coordinate a response; manage resources; and provide emergency public information with the direction of an Incident Command System.
  • Evacuation/Shelter: The ability to provide initial warnings to the at-risk population, notify people to shelter-in-place or evacuate, provide evacuation and shelter. support; confirm headcount, and manage traffic flow to and from the affected area.
  • Victim Care: The ability to treat victims at the scene per training, arrange for transport patients, and handle, track, and secure human remains. Provide tracking and security of patients’ possessions, potential evidence, and manage mental health.
  • Investigation/Apprehension: The ability to investigate the cause or source of the incident, and/or cooperate with local authorities for any man made emergencies
  • Recovery/Remediation:  The ability to restore essential business units and/or operations, cleanup the environment and render the affected area safe, provide necessary services to victims and/or the public; and restore a sense of well-being at the facility.

 

Challenged with managing preparedness amongst your various facilites? Download TRP's best practices guide on response planning for large organizations with multi-facility operations.

Response Planning For Large Organizations with Multi-Facility Operations DOWNLOAD

 

 

Tips for Determining Which Emergency Management Planning Consultant is Right!

  
  
  

Preparedness, response planning, and emergency management within regulated industries or sensitive environments often requires outside expertise.  Program managers are often responsible for predicting, preparing, complying, documenting, and possibly, responding to site-specific emergency scenarios. Yet, limited staffing, constrained timeframes, or the need for specialized expertise often hinders an all-inclusive implementation of “best practices” programs and effective emergency response plans. Implementing this level of resilience often requires external expertise or the services of specialized consultants.

In the area of emergency response planning, an external expert, or consultant, should ease the day-to-day challenges associated with developing and maintaining multiple response plans and site-specific regulatory compliance. However, experienced consultants can provide these services while seamlessly integrating and interfacing with established data, company policies, and cultures.

Carelessly choosing a consultant can lead to delayed implementation, costly and conflicting approaches, and unfulfilled expectations. The following three components should be carefully evaluated when seeking assistance for developing emergency response plans.

1. Company/Employee Support: It is often the company or individuals that have difficulty accepting change. The goal of hiring consultants is to implement positive change. Best practices strategies, processes, and advanced technologies cannot deliver results without company and individual support. Those responsible for hiring consultants must accept, adopt, drive, and sustain changes to realize tangible impacts and overall benefits.

2. Communication Compatibility: The working relationship between a client and the consultant is critical.  Both entities must be able to communicate effectively in order to attain identified objectives. The consultant must be upfront regarding costs, timelines, capabilities, and obstacles to ensure mutual understanding. The client should clearly identify the approved budget, implementation timeline, specific needs and objectives, and availability.  A positive working relationship and unified project management approach establishes common goals which enables goals to be successfully implemented.

3. Consultant Approach: Consultant-specific methods and tools, such as gap analyses, project management frameworks, site evaluations, and specific mediation approaches are important to comprehend. For an approach method to be effective, it has to be tailored to the situation of the client and changed whenever necessary to achieve set objectives.

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Consultant must be able to work closely with their clientele to develop customized plans that can improve a company's ability to prevent incidents, respond effectively, and restore operations to pre-incident levels.  Plans should be regulatory compliant and site-specific, identifying unambiguous responses for emergency situations such as fires, natural disasters, terrorist activities, pandemics or other events. Consultants should:

  • Have a proven track record in assisting in developing comprehensive, effective plans and processes
  • Have hands-on experience in emergency response, security, safety, and disaster preparedness
  • Understand budget parameters and confirm services for the agreed cost
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of local, state, and federal regulatory requirements applicable to a client’s industry, operations, and location
  • Provide references from current clients and relevant experience of staff
  • Communicate the information and time required of the company to develop compliant and effective response plans
  • Be available for meetings and updates, and address questions or concerns regarding the process, approach, and/or objectives
  • Clarify specific methods, techniques, and approaches used to meet objectives and be open to modifications

Consultants who develops customized emergency response plans should be experienced in:

  • Maintaining multiple and complex response plans
  • Addressing plan maintenance issues regarding infrastructure, personnel, and/or regulatory compliance changes
  • Regulatory audits
  • Training and exercises
  • Gathering or verifying site-specific information
  • Conducting emergency response assessments of personnel, response equipment, plans, and response contractors.

The costs associated with contracting consulting services are always in question. When hiring an external emergency management and preparedness consultant, companies should evaluate the strategic cost of an incident and the tactical cost of safety compliance versus the consultant fee. The cost benefit of hiring a specialized, reputable consultant typically outweighs the financial impacts associated with non-compliance or a catastrophic incident. 

 

Challenged with managing preparedness amongst your various facilites? Download TRP's best practices guide on response planning for large organizations with multi-facility operations.

Response Planning For Large Organizations with Multi-Facility Operations DOWNLOAD

 

Secured Accessibility Improves Response Plan Effectiveness

  
  
  

In preparedness and emergency management, the concept of risk and hazard identification is fundamental. However, the potential inability to access important documents, particularly during an emergency scenario, is often overlooked. If you experienced a catastrophic loss and could not access these important documents, would you be able to conduct an effective response?

In order to manage risks and build resilience, companies must account for the interdependencies between risks by supplementing traditional risk-management tools with new concepts. Companies should mitigate the risk that an incident may incapacitate access to response plans. Cloud and web-based technology offer enterprise-wide, up-to-date redundancies that traditional record keeping methods cannot provide. With more people owning multiple computing devices such as laptops, tablets and smart phones, the idea of data being restricted to a single desktop computer or binder without adequate redundancies seems antiquated.

To counteract potential incidents, fallout vulnerabilities, and regulatory noncompliance, response plans should be shared with and accessible to regulators, auditors, inspectors, and responders. Having up-to-date information readily available to trained responders has been proven to limit the duration of the emergency.  The faster responders can locate, assess, access, and mitigate the emergency, the sooner an incident can be contained. However, in order to minimize additional vulnerabilities, applicable data and confidential information should be secured.

A recent survey conducted by IT industry association CompTIA, found that more than 90% of companies use or have transitioned to some form of cloud technology in order to increase flexibility and reduce costs. However, the report revealed that only 48% of those surveyed utilize cloud-based methodology for business continuity/disaster recovery processes. When authorized users can access response plans information from any location, response expertise can be maximized and maintenance efforts can be shared.

TRP CORP - Secured response planning

In the event of an emergency, up-to-date paper plans may not be available from other locations.  Although some companies post electronic plans to their intranet that can be accessed remotely, the process of updating these plans is time-consuming and inefficient. In addition, if a catastrophic event occurs, there is the possibility that the main data source or server will be inaccessible.

When an incident is isolated to a particular location, cloud or web-based response plans can enable response measures on a company-wide scale. Cloud or web-based plans can also provide hyperlinks, forms libraries, simplified interfaces, and other tools designed to improve functionality for plan users.

But with any data system, redundancy and back up efforts are essential.  In the event Internet connectivity is terminated or inaccessible, emergency managers must have alternative means to access plans. Redundant data centers, scheduled download, and security measures must be a part of any web or cloud based emergency management program

Just as fire extinguishers and inclusive fire drills can maximize safety in a fire emergency, response plan accessibility and exercises a fundamental to the success of a response. From industrial facilities to multi-story office buildings, enabling first responders to have a working knowledge of site-specific responses and available equipment prior to an actual emergency is critical to the safety of the occupants.

When first responders can exercise approved response processes and procedures, responses can become second nature. Plan accessibility allows appointed responders to clarify critical contact information and responses to altered site circumstances, operations, or materials. Inaccessible response plan can facilitate confusion, inconsistency, and potentially accelerate impacts and financial loss.

As technology dependencies become more ingrained in company operations and emergency management programs, it is essential to institute company-wide best practices for computer security, downloads, and backups in order to secure necessary technologies and communications networks.  Cyber exercises allow stakeholders to simulate real-world situations, to improve communications and coordination, and to increase the effectiveness of broad-based critical infrastructure protection capabilities without the consequences of real cyber event.  These specific exercises educate employees on technological policies and provide a means to evaluate cyber incident preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery capabilities.

Be prepared for your next incident! Click the image below to download your free guide.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

 

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