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Enterprise-Wide Incident Response Planning for Hospital Systems

Posted on Thu, Apr 30, 2015

The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) sets standards for healthcare organizations and issues accreditation to those organizations that meet those standards. Despite the emphasis on standardization among hospital industry practices, there can be a lack of enterprise-wide incident response planning standardization among a company’s multiple facilities.

Hospital systems’ incident response plans, also commonly referred to as emergency operations manuals or disaster plans, establish process and procedures that strengthen capabilities to minimize service disruptions, support local community responses to a variety of scenarios, and promote ongoing financial and organizational well-being. A web-based, enterprise-wide response planning system can unify standard company response processes and procedures, simplify compliance and accreditation efforts, ensure best practices, and provide up-to-date preparedness arrangements for hospital systems.

Hospitals systems, like a variety of other companies, are embracing advanced communications methods and applying web-based technology to response planning. Increasingly available and more reliable technology has allowed multiple industries to transition from archaic binder-based plans to an all-inclusive web-based preparedness program. An enterprise-wide incident response planning system for hospital systems should:

● Support the ability to execute company approved response strategies
● Easily incorporate company growth and facility acquisitions
● Enable site-specific details while not compromising company directives
● Be easily updated with minimal dedicated staff
● Become a shared tool for internal and external responders
● Allow for streamlined compliance audits

While including unique site-specific hazards and response capabilities for each facility, overall response guidelines and visual layout should be standardized to allow for a comprehensive understanding of the parent company’s best practices and proven emergency procedures. Strategic response plan knowledge and familiarity improves the ability of individuals to respond as part of a cohesive system. Standardized incident response plan formats and guidelines should include, but are not limited to:

● Overall plan structure
● Notification procedures
● Response Team organization
● Response Tactics (Initial, intermediate, and long-term)
● Roles and Responsibilities
● Layout and content of Fire Pre plans (if applicable)
● Plot plan key
● Demobilization procedures
● Mandated company and Incident Command System (ICS) forms lists

The purpose of the plan is to ensure effective response procedures dictate appropriate behaviors in the event a crisis situation arises. Whether potential emergency situations occur within the hospital setting or the surrounding communities, effective plans should account for various potential scenarios, ensuring staff readiness and timely responses. Hospital systems’ response plans should reflect potential scenarios that would significantly impact the demand for services or interfere with the ability to provide those services.

Potential operational impacting scenarios can include a sudden and abrupt event or a sustained episode over a longer period of time. Database driven, enterprise-wide planning systems provide hospitals with a tool to standardize best practices while incorporating relevant site-specific details. Hospital response scenarios may include process and procedures related to the following:

● Severe weather
● Natural disaster (ex. earthquake, tsunami)
● Utility failure
● Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place
● Explosion
● Chemical Release
● Radiation exposures
● Active shooter
● Hostage or barricade incident
● Pandemic or local infectious disease episode
● Information technology failure or hacking
● Mass casualty
● Missing person(s)
● Staff shortage
● Fire

Within each of these scenarios, response processes and procedures must be established, trained for, and exercised. However, common duplicate information is often relevant to a variety of scenarios among multiple plan types. Web-based, database driven systems utilize one database to manage information. This function allows users to effectively duplicate common plan content and revision efforts to all plans and locations that utilize the similar data. This feature minimizes administrative time and ultimately costs associated for managing response plans.

Until web-based preparedness programs became available, plan formats often varied from one facility to another, making it difficult to manage training, compliance efforts, and consistency of basic response procedures. Incorporating a definitive enterprise-wide incident response planning system across a hospital system can maximize efforts, allowing for a streamlined and familiar response process.

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Tags: Incident Action Plan, Incident Management, Disaster Recovery

Checklist for Web-Based Business Continuity Plans

Posted on Thu, Sep 11, 2014

In business, every threat can result in the same consequence: the loss or temporary cessation of key business processes. In order to minimize impacts when a threat materializes, business continuity plans (BCPs) must be intuitive, yet dynamic, to account for each critical business process. Effective business continuity planning institutes a clear path to sustainability and operational recovery.

The following core business continuity elements should be included in a BCP. Each element must be cyclically assessed for accuracy, potential mitigation opportunities, and lesson-learned insights in order for established processes and communication to be effectively maximized.

1. Plan distribution list and contacts: Business continuity planners must be certain that the current employees listed in the plan, as well as those on the plan distribution list is verified for accuracy.  If maintaining accurate contact information is challenging, consider opting for notification verification system with email or text message capability that enables the contact to verify personal information and automatically update associated response plans.

2. Communication: By aligning mass notification methods with typical daily communication habits (cell phone, emails, texting), planners can ensure key contacts are made aware of any business interruption and BCP activation. Clear and effective communication channels must remain available in order to disseminate information to employees, assess and relay damage, and coordinate recovery strategies. Provide employees training in primary and established secondary communication methods in case of disruption of primary communications.

3. Key Staff Roles and Responsibilities: From business continuity implementation through recovery, job specific checklists and assigned procedures should be incorporated in a BCP. Task teams should be formed, at a minimum, to cover each essential business process. Each site may require unique minimum staffing levels to remain operational.
In the event that primary team members are not available, cross team training should be conducted to provide backups. Planners should make appropriate plan changes as operations and staff evolve.

4. Off-site Recovery Location: Include address, contact information, available on-site equipment, and any external equipment necessary for effective continuity of operations. 

5. Recovery Time Objectives: Incremental processes and procedures should be identified to meet specific critical business process goals.  Recovery goals may include increments of one hour, 24-hours, 48 hours, one week, one month, and long-term recovery.

6. Key Customers’ Data:  Identify effective customer communication methods and necessary contact information required to inform customers of disruptions of deliverables or services. Effective customer relations and communication may be critical in retaining clients and maintaining positive relationships during a business interruption. 

7. Key Supplier Contact List: Identify critical business unit dependencies and interdependencies and key contacts. Transportation delays could affect delivery times. Plan and mitigate accordingly.

8. Alternate Suppliers List: The consequences of a supply chain failure on associated key business components can be crippling.  Alternate suppliers should be included in the BCP to ensure consistent delivery and continued operations in the event primary suppliers are affected by similar business continuity circumstances. As a company’s needs change and new suppliers come online, plans should be updated to include these critical suppliers.

9. Insurance Details: Identify details of insurance coverage and accurate contact information. The burden of proof when making claims typically lies with the policyholder. Accurate and detailed records are imperative.

10. Data Backup Details: Identify the procedural details of computer backups, data restoration methods, and the minimum program needs to re-establish critical business processes.  

11. Technology Requirements: Identify necessary hardware and software, and the associated minimum recovery time requirements for each business unit. Companies should examine current data center outsourcing to ensure continuity and accessibility or research continually advancing alternatives.

12. Equipment Requirements: Detail applicable equipment requirements for each business unit and recovery time goals. To prevent unnecessary downtime and additional recovery efforts, identify and procure necessary equipment and establish processes for continued operations and recovery.

13. Review Log: Incorporate newly identified hazards and vulnerabilities into the business continuity plan. A log can include necessary equipment used (requiring replacement or replenishment), altered processes, and lessons learned.

A web-based platform can speed up the cycle of business continuity events. By transitioning from paper-based business continuity plans to a web-based approach, companies have the ability to maximize data and streamline information. A web-based plan enables a standardized, enterprise-wide business continuity template, yet allows for site-specific details for each particular site.

 

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Tags: BCM Standards, Business Continuity, Data Backup, Business Continuity Plan, Disaster Recovery

7 Key Points for Industrial Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Posted on Thu, Aug 14, 2014

Process and procedural effectiveness and efficiency are key elements in determining a company’s success. Critically detailed reviews, evaluations, and improvements to your processes and procedures can contribute to overall corporate viability and profitability. Process and procedural effectiveness and efficiency are also critical when it comes to developing and implementing business continuity plans.

The goal of business continuity planning is to efficiently restore operations through a predetermined, systematic approach. Unfortunately, many companies lack adequate recovery planning, and recuperative procedures to restore critical information, essential processes, and normal business operations within an acceptable recovery time frame. The lack of business continuity preparedness can adversely affect corporate reputation, financial stability, and overall resilience.

The business continuity recovery process is typically a sequence of concurrent activities and interdependent activities that facilitate measured advances toward a successful recovery. Decisions and priorities set early in the recovery process often have a cascading effect on the evolution and speed of the recovery progress and business continuity efforts. Because recovery timeliness has a direct impact on operational viability, pre-planning business continuity implementation processes and intended procedures is critical.

Developing relationships and common understandings of roles and responsibilities prior to a disaster increases post-disaster collaboration and unified decision-making, and streamlines the recovery process. A fully coordinated recovery plan may require utilizing internal and external stakeholders. Business unit management and staff, in conjunction with external participants, must be familiar with and trained in the recovery procedures in order to effectively implement directives and maintain minimal business continuity.

Recovery time and outcomes vary based on incident circumstances, challenges, and priorities. A successful disaster recovery can be characterized as the return of operations to pre-disaster conditions. FEMA’s National Disaster Recovery Framework provides key factors that contribute to a successful recovery.  With secured sharing abilities, a web-based, database driven planning system can aid in the management and communication of the key factors of a business continuity recovery process. These factors include:

1. Effective Decision-making and Coordination:

  • Confirm roles and responsibilities of recovery team and stakeholders
  • Examine recovery alternatives, address conflicts and make informed and timely decisions that best achieve recovery
  • Establish metrics for tracking progress, ensuring accountability and reinforcing realistic expectations among stakeholders
  • Track progress, ensure accountability, and make procedural adjustments as necessary

2. Integration of Community Recovery Planning Processes:

  • Engage all stakeholders in pre-disaster business continuity and recovery planning, training, and exercises
  • Establish processes and criteria for identifying and prioritizing key recovery actions and projects

3. Well-managed Recovery:

  • Leverage and coordinate recovery teams, local response groups, government liaisons, and non-governmental organizations to accelerate the recovery process and avoid duplication of efforts
  • Surge staffing and management structures as necessary to support the workload during recovery
  • Establish leadership guidance, including the shift of roles and responsibilities, for the transition from response operations to recovery, and eventually a return to a normal (or new normal) operational state
  • Ensure regulatory compliance throughout recovery process

4. Proactive Community Partnerships, Public Participation, and Public Awareness:

  • Ensure transparency and accountability
  • Communicate recovery objectives (short, intermediate and long-term) and applicable detailed information to employees, stakeholders, and community members

5. Well-administered Financials:

  • Clearly identify funding sources and financial recovery processes
  • Evaluate and present external programs that can provide financial assistance to aid in the recovery progress
  • Allow for budgetary flexibility, yet maintain adequate financial monitoring and accounting systems
  • Implement processes and systems that detect and deter fraud, waste, and abuse.

6. Organizational Flexibility:

  • Institute scalable and flexible processes that can align with recovery operations objectives
  • Institute business processes that can evolve and adapt to address the changing landscape of post-disaster environments

7. Resilient Rebuilding:

  • Invoke “Lessons Learned” in the restoration phase to minimize risks and threats, and improve response, recovery and restoration efforts. 

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Tags: Business Continuity key points, Business Continuity, Business Continuity Plan, Disaster Recovery, Disaster Response, Business Disruption

Disaster Planning for Supply Chain Distruptions

Posted on Thu, Jan 16, 2014

Given the current state of the U.S. infrastructure, an increase in targeted cyber hacking, and the continual occurrence of high-risk scenarios, ensuring supply chain stability should be part of an overall business continuity effort. Profitable operational productivity cannot tolerate unreliable and fleeting supply chains. Companies must continually evaluate Tier 1 suppliers, and establish subsequent tiers for alternate means of necessary resources, materials, and key business components.

The American Productivity & Quality Center (APOC) conducted a survey to examine the concern over supply chain stability involving the following external risk factors:

  • High-impact natural disasters, such as major tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, or floods
  • Extreme weather, such as devastating droughts, wildfires, or cyclones
  • Political turmoil in vitally important world regions

The survey revealed that 83% of organizations surveyed experienced an unexpected supply chain disruption over the previous 24 months.  26% of the organizations revealed that well-managed business continuity plans (BCPs) met their needs. However, 74% of the respondents did not have a business continuity plan that addressed the disruption. Like many others, these organizations were exposed to the disruption of physical assets in their supply chain, whether at a company-owned facility or at a key vendor’s facility.

According to APOC, supply chain disruptions can lead to tenuous operational circumstances. Aside from the straightforward financial impacts attributed to supply chain disjunctions, a break in the supply chain continuity can damage an organization’s reputation and customer relationships. “An organization’s reputation usually demonstrates a certain level of quality, resulting in the ability to command a higher product or service price. If a company’s reputation lessens due to poor risk management, then so does its ability to command a certain price.” (APOC, pg3)

Successful evaluation of supply chain risks in conjunction with an exercised business continuity plan can help improve mitigation and reduce the recovery time from an unforeseen disruption. Emergency managers should pre-identify critical business processes and the resources and equipment necessary for them to be  functional. Through this process, alternatives can be explored and a business continuity plan can be established that reduces the impacts of infrastructure disorder and associated supply chain disruptions.

Site-specific recovery strategies should be developed with the assumption that the supply chain disruption occurred when the services or output are at the highest level and most critical point. By creating continuity plans for the peak business cycle, critical recovery time objectives can be established to minimize impacts, even in the most productive periods of operations.

As a result of the survey, APOC established recommendations to ensure adequate risk mitigation of supply chains:

1. IDENTIFY SUPPLY CHAIN RISK: Identified risks  should be documented and made  visible to company management.

2. ASSESS POTENTIAL IMPACT: Each risk should be assessed for severity and probability.

3. PLAN HOW TO RESPOND TO RISKS: Companies must prioritize planning and establish a business continuity or recovery plan to minimize supply chain downtime. Plans should incorporate attainable recovery time objectives through proven processes and procedures.

4. MONITOR: Monitoring internal and external supply chain risks can allow companies to evaluate new or altered threats, assess potential impacts, and mitigate any potential negative changes. Through continually monitoring, companies can minimize potential impacts, allowing for a competitive advantage over others without a risk management plan.

5. UTILIZE NECESSARY RESOURCES: Support staff should be included in risk management and response planning processes to ensure all available resources are incorporated. An expert consultant can provide an analysis with an external perspective, often identifying risks and potential mitigation measures that were not detected internally.

The APQC is a member-based nonprofit and one of the world’s leading proponents of business benchmarking, best practices, and knowledge management research.

For a free download of Designing a Crisis Management Program, click the image belowTRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Resiliency, Business Risk, Supply Chain, Business Continuity Plan, Disaster Recovery, Business Disruption

Business Continuity Plan Reviews Identify Preparedness Gaps

Posted on Mon, Sep 30, 2013

Business is not a stagnant entity.  There are multiple moving parts that embody change, allow for progress, and promote growth. Corporate emergency management programs and business continuity plans (BCP) must be adjusted to reflect these changes. Whether change results from facility modifications, corporate mergers, or employee turnover, BCPs need to be reviewed, at a minimum, on an annual basis.

A business continuity review should evaluate identified critical processes necessary for operation. Through this evaluation, shortcomings in mitigation efforts, response coordination, resource capabilities, and response processes can be revealed. The plan may have to be adjusted to incorporate operational changes, employee turnover, and/or new company policies. In a business continuity review, each department should evaluate current critical processes, mitigate identified deficiencies, and update the plan as necessary.  

The following critical business continuity areas should be assessed for accuracy, potential mitigation opportunities, new equipment or resources, and potential policy changes:

  1. Data and computer needs: Identify the procedural details of computer backups, data restoration methods, and the minimum program needs to re-establish critical business processes.  Companies should examine current data center outsourcing to ensure continuity and accessibility or research alternatives.
  2. Notification lists: Update contact lists to ensure all information is accurate. Business continuity planners must be certain that new employees are included in the plan, as necessary, and that notifications are being delivered to accurate e-mail addresses and/or phone numbers. If maintaining accurate contact information is challenging, consider opting for a e-mail notification verification system the enables the contact to verify their own information through hyperlinks.
  3. Communication needs: Clear and effective communication channels must remain available in order to disseminate information to employees, assess and relay damage, and coordinate recovery strategies. Evaluate current communication equipment and/or mass notification systems to communicate to key individuals, company employees, or an entire client base.
  4. Supply Chain: As a company’s needs change and new suppliers come online, plans should be updated to include these critical suppliers. Alternate suppliers should be included in the BCP to ensure consistent delivery and continued operations in the event primary suppliers are subjected to business continuity circumstances, as well.
  5. Essential Personnel: Ensure necessary minimum staffing levels are acceptable to remain operational. Make changes, as necessary. Ensure staff, contractors, and suppliers understand their adjusted individual responsibilities and recovery time objectives.
  6. Equipment needs: Identify and procure necessary equipment and establish processes for continued operations and recovery. This will prevent unnecessary downtime and additional recovery efforts. If applicable, relocate equipment and arrange for essentials prior to incident. This eliminates time consuming and potentially costly efforts.

One of the most important aspects of updating a BCP is ensuring that employees are trained in plan components, and plan revisions are exercised. Each of the following phases of a BCP should be reviewed with employees:

Initial Response:  The organization’s initial response to a business interruption. The processes and procedures that incorporate the Initial Response Phase may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Initial Notifications
  • Business Continuity Team (BCT) activation
  • Business Unit personnel activation
  • Initial BCT briefing
  • Perform Impact Assessments and determine scope of recovery
  • Review specific recovery strategies/tasks for BCP implementation
  • Implementation of Business Continuity Action Plan

Mobilization and Relocation: The mobilization of resources (equipment and personnel) for relocation to alternate sites. Through mobilization and relocation, the BCP can be fully implemented to sustain minimum service levels defined for each critical process. This stage includes “Work from Home” and “Alternate Facility” relocation strategies. The Relocation Phase includes, but is not limited to:

  • Confirmation of staff relocation schedules and assignments
  • Mobilization transportation resources
  • Activation of alternate facility equipment and infrastructure resources
  • Occupation of alternate facilities by necessary department members.

Recovery:  The period after personnel and equipment are relocated, to restoration of primary or permanent alternate facilities. Procedures to include in the recovery phase of the Business Continuity Plan are:

  • Implementation of recovery strategies
  • Damage assessment of primary facilities
  • Evaluation of restoration goals/timeline
  • Mobilization of tactical teams for Recovery
  • Monitoring recovery status and plan updates, as necessary
  • Initialization of restoration

Restoration: The period in which personnel return to restored or permanent alternate facilities, to when normal business operations are resumed. Procedures to include in the restoration phase are:

  • Confirm completion of restoration goals for primary facilities and infrastructure
  • Confirm staff relocation schedules and begin relocation to permanent facility
  • Consolidate and archive incident documentation
  • Review and update BCP based on lessons learned
  • Return to normal operations
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Tags: Business Continuity key points, Resiliency, Business Continuity Plan, Disaster Recovery, Business Disruption

Emergency Response Planning for Severe Weather

Posted on Thu, Jul 11, 2013

The topic of severe weather and its devastating impacts continues to dominate the news headlines. Prior to forecasts and potential destructive weather patterns, companies should evaluate scenario-specific response plans in order to be prepared for naturally occurring threats. Severe weather, including derechos (powerful and extended straight line wind storms), flash-flooding, hail, tornadoes, and tropical storms can be destructive for typical business operations. Scenario-specific response plans, in conjunction with a business continuity plan, can ensure the safety of employees and company viability in the aftermath of severe storms.

When assessing risk and activation of a plan, the facility supervisor must be informed of the type of severe weather, forecasted possibilities, and potential timing of impact. If ample time is allotted, implementation of a plan may begin with activation phases. This allows for basic facility preparations to occur prior to being susceptible to weather hazard(s). Facilities should not institute exterior preparations once severe weather is imminent. If thunder is heard or lightning is seen, outdoor activities should be terminated and employees moved to safety immediately. According to The National Weather Service the following terminology is used to describe the potential forecast and/or timeline:

  • Special Weather Statement:  Designed to provide critical short-term hazardous weather information. The time frame of this information is six hours or less.
  • Watch: Significant weather is possible within 48 hours, but not imminent.
  • Advisory: Significant weather event is likely to occur in a specified area, or imminent. An advisory may be the time frame between a watch and a warning.
  • Warnings: Significant weather is occurring, imminent, or likely, and is a potential threat to life and property.

Both large and small businesses can benefit from instituting mitigation measures and training efforts prior to the high-risk months. Possible planning and mitigation efforts include, but are not limited to:

  • Pertinent site-specific policies and procedures should be reviewed for applicability and effectiveness.
  • Obtain materials to secure windows and brace doors, if necessary. (If lumber is necessary, pre-cut wood to size, mark each panel/piece to identify location).
  • Prune tree limbs from hanging over rooftops and clear gutters/downpipes
  • Verify employee contact information, alternate contact information, and list potential evacuation locations.
  • Develop methods for employees to receive pertinent corporate information if evacuation is conducted.
  • Establish recovery contracts with suppliers.
  • Routinely verify contact information and equipment availability with response resources.
  • Assign and train employees on severe storm related preparedness, response, and recovery tasks.

A simple checklist can be incorporated into severe weather plans that minimize the impacts of these events.

  • Monitor news and weather reports on smart phone, television, or battery operated radio
  • Alert employees or others on-site that severe weather is approaching and communicate expectations (i.e. shelter in place, evacuate, facility closure)
  • Review shutdown procedures and evacuation routes
  • Identify structural integrity of building(s) to withstand forecasted winds
  • Be aware of the dangers posed by airborne debris, equipment, and facility structures. Mitigate and secure, if possible
  • Be aware of potential for product release posed by containment failures (I.e. tanks, piping, pipelines, process equipment)
  • Contract tree removal services or obtain the necessary equipment to remove potential debris
  • Ensure that vehicles have a full tank of gas and are functioning properly
  • Obtain emergency equipment, such as generators, battery-operated radios, flashlights, lighting and additional batteries. Be prepared to acquire additional fuel if necessary, and time permits.
  • Monitor tanks, buildings, or other equipment for potential damage or failure
  • Obtain generators, if necessary to re-power facilities
  • Establish and maintain communication with personnel in remote areas
  • Communicate potential severe weather to facility personnel
  • Identify secure shelter location(s) within the facility (i.e. underground shelters, interior room without windows)
  • Conduct drills to ensure employees can locate and mobilize to designated shelter location(s)
  • Consider limiting vehicle traffic
  • Notify supervisors if facility(s) looses power, experiences storm related damage, any injuries, or if operations must be terminated
  • Develop an emergency communication plan to relay specific expectations and responsibilities during the aftermath
  • Identify product release dangers and shutdown procedures
  • Identify data backup procedures
  • Identify essential business records, backup procedures, and recover plans
  • If evacuating the facility, locate and pack critical documentation (e.g. insurance, financial, legal and identification documents) in a portable waterproof container
  • Identify and procure potential alternate location options and necessities for conducting critical business processes off-site.

 Establishing strategies to help cope with natural disasters, such as severe storms, can limit harm, financial losses, maintain business continuity, and enable a timely recovery.

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Tags: Business Risk, Training and Exercises, Business Continuity Plan, Flood Preparedness, Disaster Recovery, Disaster Response, Tornado Preparedness

How to Maintain Business Continuity throughout Disaster Recovery

Posted on Thu, Jun 20, 2013

The goal of business continuity planning is to restore operations efficiently through a systematic approach. In the event of a disaster, many companies lack adequate recovery planning and backup capabilities to restore critical information, essential processes, and normal business operations within an acceptable recovery time frame. The lack of recovery preparedness can adversely affect corporate reputation, financial stability, and overall resilience.

The recovery process is a sequence of interdependent and often concurrent activities that allow for measured advances toward a successful recovery. The time frame between temporary relocation and securing permanent facilities (either at the original or alternate facility) describe the recovery phase. Decisions and priorities set early in the recovery process often have a cascading effect on the evolution and speed of the recovery progress and business continuity efforts. Business unit management and staff must be familiar with and trained in the recovery procedures in order to effectively implement directives and maintain minimal business continuity.

Establishing plans that include comprehensive recovery processes and protocols prior to a disaster is essential. A fully coordinated post-disaster recovery plan should be implemented with internal and external stakeholders. Developing relationships and common understandings of roles and responsibilities prior to a disaster increases post-disaster collaboration and unified decision-making, streamlining the recovery process.

After the initial response and relocation of operations and personnel, the recovery phase includes, but is not limited to:

  • Damage assessments of primary facilities
  • Mobilization of tactical recovery teams
  • Recovery debriefings
  • Identification of recovery objectives
  • Initiation of restoration activities

The restoration phase addresses return of personnel to restored facilities, or permanent alternate facilities, and restoration of operations, and  includes:

  • Confirmation of the restoration of primary facilities and infrastructure
  • Confirmation of staff relocation schedules
  • Relocation to permanent facility
  • Consolidation and archiving incident documentation
  • Review and updating Business Continuity Plan based on lessons learned
  • Return to business as usual

Recovery outcomes vary based on incident circumstances, challenges,  and priorities. In the corporate world, a successful disaster recovery is typically characterized as the return of operations to pre-disaster conditions. FEMA’s National Disaster Recovery Framework provides key factors that contribute to a successful recovery.  These factors include:

1. Effective Decision making and Coordination:

    • Confirm roles and responsibilities of recovery team and stakeholders
    • Examine recovery alternatives, address conflicts and make informed and timely decisions that best achieve recovery
    • Establish metrics for tracking progress, ensuring accountability and reinforcing realistic expectations among stakeholders
    • Track progress, ensure accountability, and make procedural adjustments as necessary

2. Integration of Community Recovery Planning Processes:

    • Engage all stakeholders in pre-disaster business continuity and recovery planning, training, and exercises
    • Establish processes and criteria for identifying and prioritizing key recovery actions and projects

3. Well-managed Recovery:

    • Leverage and coordinate recovery teams, local response groups, government liaisons, and non-governmental organizations to accelerate the recovery process and avoid duplication of efforts
    • Surge staffing and management structures as necessary to support the workload during recovery
    • Establish leadership guidance, including the shift of roles and responsibilities, for the transition from response operations to recovery, and eventually a return to a normal (or new normal) operational state
    • Ensure regulatory compliance throughout recovery process

4. Proactive Community Engagement, Public Participation, and Public Awareness:

    • Ensure transparency and accountability
    • Communicate recovery objectives (short, intermediate and long-term) and applicable detailed information to employees, stakeholders, and community members

5. Well-administered Financials:

    • Clearly identify funding sources and financial recovery processes
    • Evaluate and present external programs that can provide financial assistance to aid in the recovery progress
    • Allow for budgetary flexibility, yet maintain adequate financial monitoring and accounting systems
    • Implement processes and systems that detect and deter fraud, waste, and abuse.

6. Organizational Flexibility:

    • Institute scalable and flexible processes that can align with recovery operations objectives
    • Institute business processes that can evolve and adapt to address the changing landscape of post-disaster environments

7. Resilient Rebuilding:

    • Invoke “Lessons Learned” in the restoration phase to minimize risks and threats, and improve response, recovery and restoration efforts.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Tips for  Effective Exercises.

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

Tags: Data Recovery, Resiliency, Business Continuity Plan, Disaster Recovery, Business Disruption

Disaster Recovery, Roles, and Responsibilities

Posted on Mon, Jun 10, 2013

The National Disaster Recovery Framework is a guide that enables effective recovery support to disaster-impacted States, Tribes, Territorial and local jurisdictions. It provides a flexible structure that enables disaster recovery managers to operate in a unified and collaborative manner with recovery partners. Although the framework is aimed at the public sector and governmental jurisdictions, companies should evaluate the recovery elements for site-specific applicability, and incorporate pertinent and beneficial aspects.

A business disruption that extends beyond normal operating procedures and exceeds maximum downtime allotment requires a disaster recovery plan. The ability to institute a successful plan requires stakeholders to maintain a clear understanding of post-disaster roles, responsibilities, and objectives.  Clearly defined roles and responsibilities are the foundation to identify opportunities, foster partnerships, and optimize required resources.

Recovery objectives should include the meticulous restoration, strengthening, and revitalization of the site, surrounding infrastructures, and operations. Disaster response operations should prioritize timely and accurate communication to facility managers, critical decision makers, emergency response teams, stakeholders, vendors and contractors, and, if applicable, the public, in order to accelerate recovery without duplicating efforts.

Pre-planning for recovery allows for a collaborative understanding of necessary recovery elements and critical business processes. Business continuity plans should include recovery planning and operational components, including, but not limited to:

RECOVERY PLANNING

  • Coordinate development, training, and exercise of jurisdiction disaster recovery plan.
  • Establish and maintain contacts and networks for disaster recovery resources and support systems.
  • Promulgate principles and practices that further resiliency and sustainability in development and strategic planning initiatives.

RECOVERY OPERATIONS

  • Assess damage
  • Verify facility accessibility and safety
  • Identify internal and external recovery team contacts and contractors
  • Identify the scope of repair work
  • Develop site-specific repair plans and schedules
  • Restore operations
  • Institute mitigation measures
  • Apply “lessons learned” and update plans
The Incident Commander shall initiate the business continuity plan and associated recovery efforts. In the event the incident causes major damage to company facilities, the Incident Commander should serve as primary point of contact for supporting team members during disaster recovery planning and operations. Once the recovery period begins and/or appears that it will extend beyond the recovery capabilities of the facility, the Incident Commander should be responsible for the following:
  • Initialize and coordinate the activities of local recovery organizations and initiatives
  • Work with the Federal, State, and Local agency coordinators to develop a unified and accessible communication strategy
  • Participate in damage and impact assessments with other recovery partners
  • Organize recovery-planning processes to fully engage stakeholders and identify recovery objectives, priorities, resources, capabilities, and recovery capacity
  • Ensure inclusiveness of the community in the recovery process through media and public relations efforts
  • Continually communicate recovery priorities to government liaisons, recovery stakeholders, employees, and the community
  • Incorporate critical mitigation, resilience, sustainability and accessibility building measures into the recovery plans and efforts
  • Lead the development of an actionable and feasible recovery plan based on available funding and capacity
  • Collaborate with government liaisons to identify external financial support for recovery, leverage the resources, and resolve potential duplication of assistance
  • Work closely with the recovery leadership at all levels to ensure a well-coordinated, timely, and well-executed recovery
  • Develop and implement recovery progress measures and communicate adjustments and improvements to applicable stakeholders and authorities

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Business Continuity, Crisis Management, Redundant Systems, Training and Exercises, Disaster Recovery, Business Disruption

Applying FEMA's Core Disaster Recovery Capabilities to Corporate EHS: Part 5

Posted on Thu, May 23, 2013

FEMA’s 31 core capabilities catalog distinct emergency preparedness elements utilized in national preparedness efforts and adaptable frameworks. The capabilities fall into one or more of the five mission areas: prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery.

In part 5 of this series of blogs, we will explore the core capabilities relating to FEMA’s mission areas of recovery. Although the FEMA concepts of the core capabilities are aimed at the public sector and governmental jurisdictions, companies should evaluate these recovery elements for site specific applicability, methodology, and planning. Implementation of identified measures can minimize recovery time, costs associated with restoration, and advance emergency management objectives. The core capabilities of planning and public information/warning are woven among all five mission areas, including recovery.

Recovery includes those capabilities necessary to restore company operations, affected individuals, and communities to pre-incident levels. Communicating timely and accurate information to facility managers, critical decision makers, emergency response teams, stakeholders, vendors and contractors, and the public is an important element to any emergency management function. This is especially true in communicating recovery operations. Recovery objectives should include the timely restoration, strengthening, and revitalization of the site, surrounding infrastructures, operations, and if applicable, the health, social, cultural, historic, and environmental fabric of areas affected by the incident.

RECOVERY

Economic Recovery: “Return economic and business activities (including food and agriculture) to a healthy state and develop new business and employment opportunities that result in a sustainable and economically viable community.”

Plans and decisive actions are necessary to restore and transition a business to a “new normal” or “business as usual” operations following an incident. Invoking business continuity plans into recovery allows for companies to bring critical business practices online in a manner that potentially minimizes additional economic impacts. Business units, processes, and sub-functions should be recovered and resumed according to a predetermined plan specific to the scenario’s impacts. Recovery efforts should be prioritized by critical function to maximize facility or company economic viability without compromising safety or long-term recovery strategies.

Health and Social Services: “Restore and improve health and social services networks to promote the resilience, independence, health (including behavioral health), and well-being of the whole community.”

Recovery should include the process of identifying individuals’ needs regarding health and social services in order to promote the wellbeing of personnel, communities, and any additional groups affected by the incident. Throughout the recovery process, the resilience, effectiveness, and sustainability of services should be evaluated in accordance with a specified recovery timeline and effectiveness.

Housing: “Implement housing solutions that effectively support the needs of the whole community and contribute to its sustainability and resilience.”

Viable alternate locations should be identified in the planning process and investigated as a potentially necessary business continuity measure. Company incident recovery plans should address short-term and long-term recovery location options that can support overall recovery operations and promote operational sustainability. Companies must assess the immediate and long term impact of an incident and recovery efforts to determine if temporary or permanent location changes should be made.

Natural and Cultural Resources: “Protect natural and cultural resources and historic properties through appropriate planning, mitigation, response, and recovery actions to preserve, conserve, rehabilitate, and restore them consistent with post-disaster community priorities and best practices and in compliance with appropriate environmental and historical preservation laws and executive orders.”

The recovery process should include scheduled impact assessments and identified means to mitigate impacts to natural and cultural resources. Restoring these resources to their original condition or location should be included in the general recovery timeline. Response teams should coordinate and collaborate with both internal and external experts to preserve and restore resources in accordance with set recovery time objectives.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: Emergency Management, Emergency Management Program, Disaster Recovery

The Incident Action Plan Begins with Incident Command

Posted on Mon, Apr 29, 2013

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a tool used to standardize on-scene, all-hazards incident management. ICS allows for the integration of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications, operating within a common organizational structure for more effective incident response. Utilizing ICS allows Incident Commanders (IC) to develop incident-specific strategic objectives and facilitate response procedures to ensure a streamlined, effective, and safe response.

The incident may dictate response plan modifications. Early incident evaluations enable the IC to evaluate and determine the appropriate activation level of site personnel, prescribe the necessary sequence of events, and implement appropriate processes. Number of personnel required to staff an onsite Emergency Response Team will depend on the facility operations, and size and complexity of the incident.

Corporate response structures should reflect ICS principles, yet a facility's IC should be authorized the flexibility to modify a response and organizational structure as necessary to accomplish the incident response mission. As a result, company procedures may be altered to align within the context of the ICS and address a particular hazard scenario.

The Incident Commander should be responsible for directing the response activities and be trained to assume the duties of all the primary positions until the role(s) can be handed off to assigned response team members, or delegated to other qualified personnel. The more knowledgeable individuals are of their response roles and responsibilities, the better prepared a team can be to implement a streamlined response. Effective incident command should be maintained from the beginning to the end of operations, particularly if command is transferred. Any lapse in the continuity of command and the transfer of information may reduce the effectiveness of the response.

Incident Commander responsibilities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Activate the Emergency Response team
  • Activate additional response contractors and local resources
  • Evaluate the severity, potential impact, safety concerns, and response requirements based on the initial information provided by the first person on-scene.
  • Confirm safety aspects at site, including need for personal protective equipment,  ignition sources, and potential need for evacuation.
  • Communicate and provide incident briefings to company superiors, as appropriate.
  • Coordinate/complete additional internal and external notifications.
  • Communicate with Emergency Response Team, as the situation demands
  • Direct response and cleanup operation

Priorities of an Incident Commander should include, but are not limited to the following:

Early evaluation and continual incident updates: Through early and continual progress evaluations of current conditions, the IC can establish and alter an incident action plan to counteract the circumstances. The consideration of population and responder safety should be incorporated into every evaluation, response tactic, and impact forecast.

Effective communications: The ability to receive and transmit information, obtain reports to maintain situational awareness, and communicate with all components within the incident response organization is essential to ensure effective supervision and effective response controls.

Strategic decisions: The response team’s risk level is driven by incident circumstances and impeding response strategy. An offensive strategy places members in interior positions where they are likely to have direct contact with the incident or hazard. While an offensive strategy may result in a more timely response, the IC must ensure the team’s training level is adequate  with this type of approach. A defensive strategy removes members from interior positions and high-risk activities. The defensive approach may minimize incident escalations until properly trained responders arrive at the scene. The IC, in conjunction with the response plan, may assign basic positioning and functions of internal and external responders and allocates necessary resources at the scene or emergency incident.

Tactical-level management: Tactical response management centers around the tactics used to implement the strategy. The IC may utilize tactical-level management from within the facility or from an off-site command center. Tactical response team members may include operational, communications, safety manager, liaison officers, and/or other managing supervisors. The response team is able to monitor responders while the response is being done and can provide the necessary support. However, it is the responsibility of the IC to ensure tactical objectives are completed effectively. The initial objective priorities of tactical management should include:

  • Removing endangered occupants (evacuation or shelter in place), and attend to injured individuals
  • Stabilizing the incident to minimize expansion
  • Providing for the safety, accountability, and welfare of personnel
  • Protecting the environment
  • Protecting property

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Tips for Effective Exercises.

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Tags: Incident Action Plan, Emergency Management, Response Plans, Incident Management, ICS, Disaster Recovery