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Industrial Emergency Response: Planning for Clarity in Chaos

Posted on Thu, May 26, 2016

Emergencies and incidents create circumstances that can prompt chaos. In industrial settings, chaos can stem from anomalies in routine processes, procedures, and critical infrastructures. These instances often generate variables that are potentially dangerous to employees, detrimental to the environment, and costly to a company. Without effective response plans, training, and exercises, emergency and incident responses can be turbulent, disorganized, dangerous, and expensive.

Optimizing a site-specific emergency response program is a critical component to reducing potential chaos at an industrial facility. From technological advancements to implementation of best practices, continually evolving planning programs can reduce impacts on individuals, infrastructures, and the environment. The following preparedness and response planning elements promote consistency, structure, and order to a response.

Mitigation: The risk assessment process can be used to identify situations that may lead to incidents or prolonged responses. While all risks cannot be averted, a facility can become better prepared for disasters if risk mitigation measures are implemented. Mitigation measures may include additional training, updating safety processes and procedures, purchasing newer or additional equipment, or other considerations

Data Accuracy: Providing up-to-date, site-specific information has been proven to limit the duration of the emergency. Emergency planning must incorporate a method to account for evolving operations, varying on-site equipment, and employee turnover. Accurate details of these modifications, expansions, and adjustments must be incorporated into the response plans. If the response plan information is missing or out-of-date, the response will be hindered. Additionally, necessary compliance data relevant to ever-changing regulatory requirements must be accurately applied in order to eliminate the potential for fines.

Accessibility: The faster responders can locate, access, assess, and implement accurate response actions, the sooner an incident can be contained, and operations can be restored to “business as usual”.Web-based response plans offer the greatest secured accessibility option for stakeholders, auditors, and inspectors while bolstering an entire emergency management program. With web-based technology and an Internet connection, response planning program information embedded with database driven software can be immediately and securely available without the “version confusion” typically found in other formats. Both paper-based plans and those housed on a company intranet are often out of date with multiple versions in various locations, potentially misinforming the response team.

Collaboration: Emergency response program effectiveness can be optimized through effective interoperability. Broadening the scope of response expertise can greatly benefit a facility by limiting the timeline of potentially escalating emergencies. Emergency managers should continually meet with government agencies, community organizations, and utility companies throughout the entire planning cycle to discuss likely emergencies and the available resources to minimize the effects on the community. Coordinating planning, training, drills, and resource availability with local agencies and dedicated responders is an important aspect of an effective emergency response program.

Best Practices Implementation: Applying best practices to an emergency response program enables emergency managers to leverage past experiences as a means to improve planning efforts for future emergency response scenarios. By analyzing past incidents and responses, executing enhancements, and reinforcing lessons learned, companies and municipalities will be better prepared than their historical counterparts.

Training: Training programs that include guidance, documentation, and oversight help ensure response knowledge and compliance with agency regulations. Companies need to perform cyclical internal training program audits. These audits emphasize corporate responsibility to employees, the environment, and the surrounding communities and can often reveal inadequacies and mitigation opportunities. Training audits can bring a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of risk management, control, and corporate governance processes.

Exercises: Exercises provide a setting for operational response procedures to be tested. Real-world exercise scenarios can often highlight potential deficiencies in response plans and procedures, comprehension of individual roles and responsibilities, and disjointed partnership coordination. However, identified deficiencies reveal mitigation opportunities and valuable response knowledge.

Response Plan Audits: Audits, whether conducted by in-house professionals or experienced consultants, can often reveal the same inadequacies and mitigation opportunities as regulatory agencies. Regrettably, some companies address response plan gaps only after an incident or agency inspection occurs. With an objective eye, a gap analysis generated by an audit can bolster a response-planning program and minimize the chance of impeding incidents or large regulatory fines.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Emergency Response

Real Time Incident Management Systems Aid Emergency Responses

Posted on Mon, Apr 14, 2014

On March 22, 2014, a barge carrying nearly 900,000 gallons of marine fuel oil collided with a ship in the Houston Ship Channel. The collision led to the spill of an estimated 168,000 gallons of the heavy oil into the channel. The spill closed a critical area marine hub, impacted the local migrating wildlife, and spread nearly 12 miles into the Gulf of Mexico.

The event highlights the importance of minimizing impacts through immediate, effective, and decisive communications and response actions. As the duration of an incident increases, it is likely that impacts will broaden. Real-time incident management is becoming more of an expected standard in today’s industrial settings. Current societal norms dictate the necessity for immediate access to crucial and timely information, especially during an emergency response.

A real-time incident management system (IMS) allows for real-time transmission of incident details, including location, severity, impact, and status.  Because of the instantaneous communication, decisions and coordinated efforts can be tailored to an event as it evolves. A real-time system can:

  • Reduce exponential impact of incidents through timely response
  • Increase effectiveness of response
  • Track status of the incident and all aspects of the response based on each organization/departments assignment(s) and operational levels
  • Clarify necessary deployment of resources in order to prevent duplication of efforts
  • Provides a means to aggregate data into a format that enables real-time analysis and decision making to ensure the most efficient and effective emergency response
  • Provide an instantaneous method of emergency situational awareness

However, response actions must not fall victim to exaggerated miscalculations, rumors, and inaccuracies. The incident commander must ensure rapid responses and decisive actions are relevant and best suited for the site-specific scenario. In order for a real-time IMS to be effective, specific situational checklists should be created.  Responders must understand applicable emergency procedures,  status updates that need to be communicated, and in what time frame communications need to be documented.  An incident should be managed through clearly identified and communicated objectives. These objectives should include:

  • Establishing specific incident objectives
  • Developing strategies based on incident objectives
  • Developing and issuing assignments, plans, procedures, and protocols.
  • Establishing specific, measurable tactics or tasks for various incident management functional activities, and directing efforts to accomplish them in support of defined strategies.
  • Documenting results to measure performance and facilitate corrective actions

Just as timely communication methodology is important, commonly understood terminology is essential. A multi-agency incident response requires simple and parallel language. Rapidly communicating through unfamiliar company radio codes, agency specific codes, perplexing acronyms, unanticipated text messages, or specialized jargon will disconnect and confuse responders, and/or stakeholders, possibly prolonging a response.

Maintaining an accurate and up-to-date picture of resource utilization is a critical component of incident management and emergency response.  Each real-time status update should identify the following in order to clearly communicate to those in the Incident Command System:

  • Time of update (timestamp)
  • Incident or event name
  • Elapsed time of incident from initiation
  • Name/position of responder making status updates
  • Current planning phase and/or specific status update
  • Tasks assigned, both internally and externally, and resources used or required
  • Emergency Operations Center location and contact information

Companies that are required to maintain emergency response plans for regulatory purposes should consider the use of web-based response plans that integrate with a real-time IMS. Minimizing the consequences at the site, the environment, and the responders offsets the cost of implementing a new IMS.  Improving reactive decision management, timeliness of an ongoing response, and swift implementation of recovery strategies can limit resulting effects of any emergency situation.

Be prepared!  Download TRP's free guide by clicking the image below:

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Tags: Emergency Response, Emergency Preparedness, Incident Management, Oil Spill, Communication Plan, Political Instability

8 Expert Tips: Improve Your Preparedness and Response Planning Program

Posted on Mon, Apr 07, 2014

Improving the effectiveness of emergency response programs should be an ongoing event. From technological advancements to best practices implementation, continually evolving planning programs can reduce unexpected impacts on individuals, infrastructures, and the environment.

Below are eight tips to consider in the continual effort to improve a response-planning program:

1. Data Accuracy: Establishing readily available up-to-date information has been proven to limit the duration of the emergency.  The faster responders can locate, assess, access and implement accurate response actions to mitigate the emergency, the sooner an incident can be contained, and operations can be restored to “business as usual”.

The specific information regarding company operations, on-site equipment, and employees are continuously changing.  Accurate details of these modifications, expansions, and adjustments must be incorporated into the emergency response-planning program.  If the information contained within the plan is missing or out-of-date, the response will be hindered.  Additionally, necessary compliance data relevant to ever-changing regulatory requirements must be accurately applied in order to eliminate the potential for fines.

2. Training: Training programs that include properly trained personnel, guidance, documentation, and oversight help ensure compliance with agency regulations. These regulatory requirements are designed to prevent harm and ensure adequate responses to protect the public. However, companies should not rely on regulatory training requirements and agency inspections to ensure training programs are sufficient.

Companies need to perform cyclical internal training program audits to create corporate assurance, add EHS program value, improve operational safety, and ideally prevent harmful incidents from occurring. Objective internal auditing emphasizes corporate responsibility to employees, the environment, and the surrounding communities and can often reveal inadequacies and mitigation opportunities. Training audits can bring a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of risk management, control, and corporate governance processes.

3. Exercises: Real world exercise scenarios can often highlight potential deficiencies in the response plan and procedures, comprehension of individual roles and responsibilities, and partnership coordination. However, it is through identified deficiencies that mitigation opportunities are revealed and valuable response knowledge and experiences can be attained.

Exercises provide a setting for operational response procedures to be tested. In preparation for these exercises, companies should develop exercise-planning documents, including participant 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.

4. Accessibility: Web-based response plans offer the greatest secured accessibility option for stakeholders, auditors, and inspectors while bolstering an entire emergency management program. With web-based technology and an Internet connection, response planning program information embedded with database driven software can be immediately and securely available without the “version confusion” typically found in other formats. Both paper-based plans and those housed on a company intranet are often out of date with multiple versions in various locations, potentially misinforming the response team.

5. Collaboration: Response planning program effectiveness can be optimized through effective interoperability: the ability for diverse organizations to work together for a greater good. Broadening the scope of response expertise can greatly benefit a facility by limiting the timeline of potentially escalating emergencies. Coordinating planning, training, drills, and resource availability with local agencies and responders is an important aspect of an effective environmental, health and safety program.

Local agencies may provide additional response knowledge based on particular research, experiences, or occupational training in a particular area of study. Emergency managers should continually meet with government agencies, community organizations, and utility companies throughout the entire planning cycle to discuss likely emergencies and the available resources to minimize the effects on the community.

6. Auditing: Audits, whether conducted by in-house professionals or experienced consultants, can often reveal the same inadequacies and mitigation opportunities as regulatory agencies.  Regrettably, most companies address response plan gaps only after an incident or agency inspection occurs. With an objective eye, a gap analysis generated by an audit can bolster a response-planning program and minimize the chance of impeding incidents or budget-crippling regulatory fines.

7. Mitigation: Adverse conditions, unsafe activities, or ineffective responses pose risks to occupants, facilities, the environment, and/or communities. By eliminating or mitigating risks, companies can reduce the potential for emergency situations. The risk assessment process can be used to identify situations that may lead to incidents or prolong a response.

While all risks cannot be averted, a facility can become better prepared for disasters if the procedural risk mitigation measures are implemented. Mitigation measures may include a variety of tactics including, but not limited to training for employees, updating safety processes and procedures, or purchasing updated equipment.

8. Best Practices Implementation: Applying best practices to an response planning program enables emergency managers to leverage past experiences as a means to improve planning efforts for future emergency response scenarios. By analyzing past incidents and responses, executing enhancements, and reinforcing lessons learned, companies and municipalities will be better prepared than their historical counterparts.

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

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Tags: Emergency Response, Emergency Preparedness, Response Plans, Training and Exercises, Emergency Response Planning, Communication Plan

The Preparedness Secrets to Reducing Response Time

Posted on Thu, Apr 03, 2014

In emergency management, response time is critical. The faster an effective response can be initiated, the less chance of an incident escalating and adversely impacting the facility, employees, the environment, and a company’s reputation. Rapid incident response requires accurate communication, training, and exercises.

An accurate plan must be in place for optimal response times. Verification of contact information for company personnel, emergency responders, and agencies should be done on a periodic basis. Any delay in communication will increase response times, delay response actions, and exacerbate the potential impacts.

In order to react quickly, companies need to prepare response plans with flexible, yet pre-identified response strategies. It is critical that the emergency management framework, response measures, and communication strategies be tested and exercised before an incident occurs.

Response plan audits ensure detailed accuracy, plan applicability, and regulatory compliance. Throughout the audit process, a variety of aspects can be tested to ensure optimal response times. Certain elements to test include, but are not limited to:

  • Viability of communications systems (monthly)
  • Alerts, notifications, and activation procedures (quarterly) for all response personnel
  • Response equipment (monthly)
  • Accessibility of response plan
  • Primary and backup infrastructure systems and services
  • Plans for recovering vital records, critical information systems, services, and data
Most successful and timely responses result from a prepared strategy, with a cooperative understanding of response roles and responsibilities. Having a “real-time” incident management system in place may alleviate some of the shortfalls in response measures. However, employees and responders must be trained in response procedures in order to carry out expected actions. In order to limit response times, the following training and exercise concepts should be implemented:

TRAINING

  • Train employees on response roles and responsibilities
  • Conduct incident response orientations and briefings for the entire workforce
  • Train company leadership on response team organization and applicable functions
  • Train personnel on response plans and procedures
  • Allow opportunities for response personnel to demonstrate familiarity with the plans and procedures
  • Report documented training to applicable regulatory agencies

EXERCISES

  • Exercise physical security attributes at the site
  • Test internal and external interdependencies,  with respect to performance of critical response functions
  • Conduct exercises that incorporate deliberate response actions and measure overall response time
  • Conduct exercises using scenarios that involve evacuation, shelter in place, or virtual office accessibility
  • Demonstrate coordinated communications capability
  • Allow opportunity for continuity personnel to demonstrate their familiarity with the recovery and restoration procedures to transition from a continuity environment to normal activities

Coordinating planning, training, drills, and resource availability with local agencies and responders is an important aspect of an effective environmental, health and safety program. Broadening the scope of response expertise can minimize response time. Local agencies may provide additional response knowledge based on particular research, experiences, or training. Not only can response time be reduced, but also the overall duration of the incident.

Emergency managers should continually meet with potential response partners such as government agencies, community organizations, neighboring companies, and utilities companies.  Communicating with external alliances throughout the entire planning cycle can drastically reduce response time. Sources of local collaborative response efforts and plan management information may include:

  • Community Emergency Management office
  • Mayor or Community Administrator’s office
  • Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)
  • Fire Department
  • Police Department
  • Emergency Medical Services organizations
  • American Red Cross
  • National Weather Service
  • Public Works Department
  • Telephone companies
  • Electric companies
  • Neighboring businesses

Companies that are required to maintain emergency response plans for regulatory purposes should consider the use of web-based response plans that integrate with real-time incident management systems in order to maximize their emergency response efforts.

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

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Tags: Tabletop Exercise, Emergency Response, Emergency Preparedness, Response Plans, Emergency Response Planning

Fire Pre Plan Forms - Success is in the Details!

Posted on Mon, Jan 06, 2014

Safeguarding businesses from fire and subsequent losses should begin with pre-planning, effective mitigation measures, employees training, and local responder coordination. Fire pre-planning should be used to bolster overall EHS objectives subjected to regulatory requirements. However, according to the National Fire Protection Associations (NFPA), between 2006 and 2010 fire damage cost industrial and manufacturing facilities an estimated $951 million each year.

Many industrial facilities contain unique hazards and obstacles, making it more difficult to manage an effective response to a fire.  By removing uncertainties and hazards associated with a company’s facilities, included emergency response strategies and tactical decision-making processes can empower responders to react expeditiously and potentially limit damage to buildings. Through coordinated efforts, local responders can enter into an emergency situation conscious of existing factors and minimize unnecessary risk, while giving the responders every possible advantage in responding effectively to a fire. 

Site-specific information is the foundation of an effective fire pre plan. Fire pre plans generally include information that will be used by decision makers at the incident. The following key fire pre plan components should be common to most fire pre plans: The plan must:

  • Be in writing
  • List major site hazards
  • Include a plot plan
  • Have current information

Establishing company-wide pre-plan templates ensures information is recorded in a uniform manner. However, pre plans are only effective if accurate and pertinent information is included. Depending on the company’s operations, pre-plan templates can range from the simple to complex. Below is a compilation of insightful fire pre plan helpful hints from various first responders and fire departments:

  • Update plans and communicate with external responders and fire departments often! Include status updates of new buildings construction and renovations being performed.
  • Implement a means of easily accessible pre plan storage and retrieval.
  • Make forms easy to read! Responders may be reading these plans at night, in periods of limited light, and in inclement weather. The easier to read, the better it is for all responders.
  • Separate large complexes into color-coded quadrants. Response strategies can be developed for each quadrant, making it much easier to respond to fires in large complexes.
  • Update external responders on perimeter gate entry codes whenever changes are made.
  • Identify location of alarm panel locations, key box locations.
  • Specify location and identity of stored hazardous materials
  • Coordinate response exercises with fire department training drills
  • Implement lessons learned and new firefighting tactics into response plans

Responders continually verify the importance for fire pre plan simplicity, clarity and accuracy. From the initial information-gathering phase to a pre plan application during the response; crucial response information must be communicated effectively. Despite the response situation or circumstances, a fire pre plan form should include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Building/site layout information
  • Fire suppression information
  • Hazards locations
  • Utility information
  • Exposure information
  • Water supply
  • Evacuation needs
  • Occupancy information
  • Special procedures for handling, storage and control of items that have been identified as major fire hazards
  • Mutual aid resources
  • Strategies

Companies with numerous locations and/or vast corporate complexes can greatly benefit from web-based fire pre planning, Responders can utilize mobile devices to search fire pre plan for specific data within seconds, access web cams for real time information, and/or download planning information for future reference. Companies that strive to maintain a large amount of pre planning information, , and struggle with consistency and secured plan accessibility should consider web-based technology.

For a free fire pre plan guide, click the image below:

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Tags: Fire Pre Plans, Emergency Response, Fire Preparedness, Workplace Safety

Development of a Crisis Management Plan

Posted on Thu, Aug 29, 2013

Circumstances that create emergency situations can often be predicted and mitigated. However, an emergency situation can strike in an instant. When “accidents happen”, a crisis management plan can minimize incident escalation effects, such as a company’s short and long-term reputation, adverse financial performance, and overall impingement of company longevity. The associated level of preparedness may mean the difference between crises averted and complete corporate disaster.  

A crisis management plan and program should be part of all company’s overall strategic planning process. Developing a comprehensive crisis management plan for your unique enterprise can be complex. Planning for managing public perception associated with an incident may be as important as dealing with the emergency itself.

There are a multitude of communication and response details, variables, and eventualities that must be taken into consideration and planned for. Whether a company is a small regional operation or an extensive international network of offices and facilities, designing a comprehensive and effective crisis management plan before a crisis occurs is essential to the continued success of an enterprise.

The following concepts should be utilized to generate an effective crisis management plan:

  • Predict: Identify potential threats to business continuity, which can range from emergency incidents to product recalls.
  • Position: Agree to the company’s position on potential issues.
  • Prevent: Take preventive measures to avert emergency situations and proactively deter negative perceptions, which may include performing safety and operational audits and assessments, and additional personnel training.
  • Plan: Prepare a communications plan for responding to all internal and external aspects of the crisis. This may include identifying and communicating with all audiences that may be affected by various crisis scenarios.
  • Persevere: In the event of a crisis, proactively communicate company position and initiate other response actions, as identified in the plan. Proactive efforts, honesty, empathy, and preparedness will assist in maintaining company viability and reputation.
  • Evaluate: If the crisis management plan is activated, review ongoing results and feedback to determine if adjustments should be made.

The following questions may assist in identifying crisis management preparedness measures:

How vulnerable are you to natural disaster?

Depending on the geographic location(s) of your operation, you may be subject to hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, ice storms, or a combination of these. Geological and meteorological patterns should be examined from past decades and, ideally, the past century.

Based on these patterns, emergency response plans must be developed for the most likely disaster scenarios. Once those plans are in place, an overall crisis management plan should be developed to communicate and respond to the associated impacts of the disaster, implemented response measures, and overall business practices related to the natural disaster.

What should be done for business continuity issues, such as a pandemic situation? 

The risk of a virulent outbreak is real and has the potential to seriously impact day-to-day business operations.  Business continuity and pandemic planning can prepare a company to react to a potential outbreak. In developing a plan for pandemic scenarios, the business continuity/pandemic response team must have access to the resources, procedures, and safeguards to successfully mitigate its effects and sustain critical business processes. In this scenario, a crisis management team must be in place to address potential corporate human relations and proactively address shareholder communication.

What inherent hazards are present in current operations?

It is essential to have comprehensive prevention plans, secondary containment, and response procedures in place if your facility handles hazardous materials. It is critical, and often required by regulations to have response plans in place in the event of a fire, explosion, oil spill, or release of other hazardous materials.

The ability to quickly return to normal business operations is essential for the viability of a company. When developing an emergency response plan, all potential variables, risks and threats should be identified and prepared for. The crisis management plan should identify and address potential environmental, socio-economic, and company impacts and how to proactively mitigate damages.

What are potential security vulnerabilities?

In addition to planning for potential natural disasters, business continuity issues, and operational hazards, recognizing and mitigating security vulnerabilities is an important step to a successful crisis management program. Whether in the form of a network intrusion or virus, or an actual physical attack, site and electronic security should be taken into consideration when assessing potential threats. Response teams must be prepared with knowledge, procedures, and the necessary resources to respond appropriately and minimize impacts and long-term effects.

The crisis management plan must address necessary steps required to proactively reassure workforce and shareholders of the company’s ongoing commitment to preserve and protect the security of its employees, intellectual property, and trade secrets, and relationships with business partners.

For a free Response Procedures Flow Chart, click the image below:

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Tags: Emergency Response, Emergency Management, Crisis Management, Communication Plan

Strengthening the Incident Management Team

Posted on Mon, Jul 29, 2013

Every incident can present unexpected conditions and circumstances that can escalate the situation. The Incident Management Team (IMT) has the responsibility to evaluate, react, and adapt to changing circumstances to ensure the incident response evolves to a recovery mode.

Progress evaluations and plan adjustments should begin immediately upon team activation and continue until the incident is terminated. This level of coordination and communication among the incident management team requires knowledge, role specific training, and an effective synergy between team members. On smaller incidents with less likelihood for escalation, the task of developing incident objectives and strategies may be the sole responsibility of an Incident Commander. However, on larger or more complex incidents, members of the IMT and other key company personnel may contribute to this process.

A Wildfire Lessons case study revealed five guiding principles of  “High Reliability Organizations” (HROs). HROs typically operate in fast-paced, high-risk environments and achieve their operational goals or objectives. Yet these HRO are recognized for accomplishing these goals with minimal human error and accidents. IMTs should strive to integrate HRO principles into their methodology and training in order to strengthen incident resolution abilities and minimize incident escalation.

The five managing principals as revealed by Wildfire Lessons are:

1. Preoccupation with Failure:  HROs pay persistent attention to detecting and quickly responding to all errors and failures. “Treating all errors and failures as weak signals of possible larger failures, and a signal of possible weakness in other parts of the operation or organization.” IMTs should converge on early problem identification. This enables actionable responses that could potentially prevent incident escalation or a snowballing effect.

2. Reluctance to Simplify. “HROs resist the common tendency to oversimplify explanations of events and to steer away from evidence that disconfirms management direction or suggests the presence of unexpected problems.”  In order to move from incident management to recovery, IMTs must address and communicate detailed actions. Obscurities and cryptic language to minimize the reality and realistic implications of an incident can lead to a prolonged response, potentially endangering lives, the facility, or the environment.

3. Sensitivity to Operations. HROs must maintain situational awareness and a “big picture” concept of ongoing operations. IMTs should integrate response actions, results, and outcomes into overall situational and operational briefings. This maintains the ability to optimize responses and can reveal challenges or problems. As a result, proactive measures can be put into place before problems become substantial and overbearing.

For the IMT, incident briefings should communicate the broad scope picture. During these briefings, the incident manager can assess progress against stated objectives, execute plans, ensure support and resources are in place for current and next operational period.

4. Commitment to Resilience. HROs “recognize, understand and accept that human error and unexpected events are both persistent and omnipresent.”  Like with HROs, IMTs must be prepared for a worst-case scenario, yet assume incidents may reveal the unexpected. To combat the unexpected; IMTs must develop the capacity to respond to, contain, cope with, and recover from undesirable changes swiftly and effectively. Through pre planning, known threats and potential risks can be thwarted. However, preparing for resilience of the unexpected requires coordinated planning, internal and external response collaboration, training, and exercises.

5. Deference to Expertise. An HRO minimizes hierarchical restraints that will limit the organization to defer to experts. These equipment or specific incident response experts are typically not found at the executive level. Middle management, lower level personnel, or external authorities may have the experience and expertise to advise IMTs on incident specifications.  When operational decisions must be made quickly and accurately, IMT leaders should communicate with the necessary experts and defer to “the people who have the answer to the problem at hand.” Upper management should allow these decisions to be made by those with the most knowledge, minimizing potential obstacles for a timely response.

Confidence in an IMT by responders in the field is critical to success. By anticipating incident challenges through preparedness and encouraging an IMT to utilize interpersonal communications elements, organizational alertness, flexibility, and adaptability will result in an effective and timely response.

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Tags: Emergency Response, Incident Action Plan, Emergency Management, Incident Management

20 Corporate Emergency Preparedness and Planning Blogs

Posted on Mon, Apr 22, 2013

To ensure employee safety, business continuity, regulatory compliance, and environmental responsibility, companies must dedicate efforts to developing an effective emergency management program. Financial restraints, combined with a “it won’t happen to me” mentality often destroy a corporate preparedness commitment. However, neglecting the concept of a potential worst case scenario or daily operational risks can be detrimental to a company. Accidents, man-made and natural disasters, human error, and equipment failures occur throughout the world on a daily basis. Companies need to embrace the “not if, but when” discourse of response planning.

Below is a compilation of blogs that address emergency and disaster preparedness, from training and fire pre planning to demobilization and post-incident reviews. The information contained in these the blogs can be used to enhance preparedness efforts and reinforce safety, security, and regulatory compliance.

Initial Planning Efforts: Corporate preservation and resilience requires planning. Preparedness  can ensure response processes and procedures are in place to protect employees, the environment, and company assets, while minimizing the effects of an incident, sustaining or recovering operations, and complying with regulatory requirements. Every company is unique and requires site risk analysis, specific employee training, and tailored plans to suit their particular needs, in the event of an incident, disaster, crisis, or disruption. Although circumstances are unique to the needs of each company, the following blogs provide  planning initiatives that may be applicable:

  1. Hazardous Material Response Team Training Requirements
  2. Emergency Response Team Roles and Responsibilities
  3. Business Impact Analysis for Risk Mitigation
  4. Facility Risk Management Planning
  5. The Responsibility of Oil Spill Response: The Qualified Individual

Plan Types: Companies are unique in terms of geographic location, personnel, type of operations, and management approach. As a result, various plan types may be required to address various hazards and regulatory requirements. Specific risks and threats are unique to company, industry, region, and enterprise operations and should be addressed through site-specific plans. Below is a sampling of blogs detailing various plan types that are utilized:

  1. Pre Fire Plan Checklist
  2. The Four Phases of a Business Continuity Plan
  3. Emergency Planning for Natural Disasters
  4. SPCC and Oil Contingency Plans
  5. Corporate Level Emergency Management Plans

Initial Response: Understanding the process and procedures set forth in the response plans, as well as the management of those plans, dictate the initial effectiveness of a response. Executing an effective response can be a complex process of managing multiple simultaneous  elements to ensure a swift and success recovery. Response actions require flexibility, ongoing communication, command unity, resource management, and more. The blogs below address various topics that reflect the procedural and managerial response aspects associated in specific incidents:

  1. Disaster Management Planning Details
  2. Top 10 Checklist for Confined Space Entry
  3. 10 Commonly used Incident Management Forms
  4. Real-Time Incident Management Speeds Up Incident Response
  5. Seven HAZWOPER Training Categories and Response Capabilities

Post Incident: Once an incident is concluded, it is vital to conduct a thorough and objective response evaluation.  A post incident review is one of the most neglected aspects of preparedness, yet it can enhance and strengthen a company’s response management and recovery operations. Response assessments should be all-inclusive, from preparedness to demobilization, and reveal strengths, weaknesses, and concerns based upon organizational and institutional standards. Collaborative industrial and historical lessons learned should be continually reflected in preparedness planning. Utilizing the knowledge of employees, experts, and those involved in previous incidents can streamline response measures for future situations.

  1. 10 Points for a Post Incident Management Critique
  2. Crisis Management Reviews Identify Deficiencies
  3. The Emergency Response Plan- Demobilization and Post Incident Review
  4. 5 Key Point to Review in Facility Emergency Operations Plans
  5. Use "Lessons Learned" to Improve Emergency Response

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

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Tags: Fire Pre Plans, Emergency Response, Emergency Management, Resiliency, Training and Exercises, Emergency Management Program, Event Preparedness

Emergency Response Interoperability and Mutual Aid Agreements

Posted on Thu, Nov 29, 2012

Broadening the scope of response expertise can greatly benefit companies in the event of an emergency incident or disaster. Interoperability and associated agreements with local, state and federal agencies may provide additional resources based on particular experiences, research, or occupational training in a particular area, potentially reducing response time during a dire situation.

According to FEMA, “mutual aid agreements and assistance agreements are agreements between agencies, organizations, and jurisdictions that provide a mechanism to quickly obtain emergency assistance in the form of personnel, equipment, materials, and other associated services.” 

Emergency managers should regularly meet with government agencies, community organizations, and specialized response organizations  to discuss likely emergencies and their ability to contribute resources. Mutual aid agreements should facilitate a rapid, short-term deployment of emergency support prior to, during, and after an incident. However, the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Planning Guide states that a response from state or federal resources can take up to 72 hours or longer to arrive.

FEMA states that mutual aid agreements do not obligate agencies, organization or jurisdictions to supply provisions or aid, but rather provide a need-based tool should the incident dictate the requirement. These agreements ensure the efficient deployment of standardized, interoperable equipment and other incident services or resources during incident operations. However, emergency managers should consult their company’s legal representative prior to entering into  any agreement.

The designated emergency manager will typically establish mutual aid agreements.  However, the incident commander, in coordination with a liaison officer, must have full knowledge of the agreements and respective roles the organization(s) will play during a response.

The NIMS Planning Guide identifies several types of mutual aid agreements that can benefit companies. These agreements include, but not limited to:

Automatic Mutual Aid Agreement:  Permit the automatic dispatch and response of requested resources without incident-specific approvals. These agreements are usually basic contracts.

Local Mutual Aid Agreement: Neighboring jurisdictions or organizations that involve a formal request for assistance and generally covers a larger geographic area than automatic mutual aid.

Regional Mutual Aid Agreement: Multiple jurisdictions that are often sponsored by a council of governments or a similar regional body.

Statewide/Intrastate Mutual Aid Agreement: A coordinated agreement throughout a State or between states that incorporate both State and local governmental and nongovernmental assets in an attempt to increase preparedness statewide.

Interstate Agreement: Out-of-State assistance through formal State-to-State agreements such as the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, or other formal State-to-State agreements that support the response effort.

International Agreement: Agreements between the United States and other nations for the exchange of Federal assets in an emergency.

Other Agreements: Any agreement, whether formal or informal, used to request or provide assistance and/or resources among jurisdictions at any level of government (including foreign), NGOs, or the private sector.

Memorandums of understanding (MOUs), or letters of intent, may be used with the private sector and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to facilitate potential collaborative efforts in the event of an incident.  MOUs can be legally binding depending on the intention of the contractual parties, the language used in the document, and the residing jurisdiction. However, other MOUs can be construed as a non-binding, “gentlemen's’ agreement”. 

The U.S. Department of State suggests the following regarding MOUs. 

“While the use of a title such as “Memorandum of Understanding” is common for non-binding documents, we caution that simply calling a document a “Memorandum of Understanding” does not automatically denote for the United States that the document is non-binding under international law. The United States has entered into MOU’s that are considered binding international agreements.”. 

Download this free 9-Step sample Emergency Response Procedures Check List.

TRP Corp -Response Procedure flowchart

Tags: BCM Standards, Emergency Response, Department of Homeland Security, Supply Chain, Disaster Recovery, Business Disruption

The Emergency Operations Planning P

Posted on Thu, Sep 20, 2012

The Planning “P” is a common emergency management image that illustrates the model incident management process for one operational period. The US Coast Guard states that the incident management planning process should be built on the following phases:

1. Identify and process the potential incidents and effects

2. Establish incident objectives

3. Develop the plan to counteract the effects

4. Prepare, disseminate, and exercise the plan

5. Execute, evaluate, and revise the plan

Decision-makers should utilize the Planning “P” as a guide for developing Incident Action Plans, tactical responses necessary to meet objectives, and planning essential meetings throughout the incident.

TRP Corp - Planning P

The primary components of the Planning “P” are as follows:

1. Initial Response, Objectives and Briefing: The leg of the “P” describes the initial response activation period for the Tier 1 Emergency Response Team (ERT), the Tier 2 Incident Management Team (IMT), and the Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) or Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The Initial response activities should include the following:

  • Conduct initial assessment
  • Develop Plan of Action
  • Complete ICS-201 form: The ICS 201 provides the Incident command team with information about the situation and the resources allocated to the incident. This form serves as a permanent record of the initial response to the incident and can be used for transfer of command.
  • Prepare for command briefing
    • Identify Unified Command representatives
    • Brief Command on initial response activities
    • Agree on organization structure
    • Clarify issues and concerns
    • Identify Command post and support facilities
    • Discuss planned operations and directions
    • Identify incident escalation potential
  • Identify Command Post and support facilities
  • Order appropriate staffing

Tactical discussions should include alternative response strategies, potentially for each incident objective. On smaller incidents with minimal impact, the task of developing incident objectives and strategies may be the sole responsibility of the Incident Commander. On larger incidents, members of the Incident Management Team (IMT) and ECC, and other key company personnel may contribute to this process.

2. Assessment Meetings to define objectives for operational period

  • Prior to meeting, Incident Command/Unified Command should develop and update the following:
    • Response emphasis and priorities
    • Response objectives
    • Common operating policy, procedures, and guidelines
  • Command and General Staff Meeting Briefing:
    • Meet and brief Command and General Staff on command direction, objectives and priorities
    • Assign work tasks
    • Resolve problems
    • Clarify staff roles and responsibilities

3. Planning meeting

  • Update charts and maps, as necessary
  • Draft ICS-215, Operational Planning Worksheet
  • Identify operational requirements, strategies, and tactics for next operational period in order to meet priorities and objectives
  • Get tactical approval from Incident Command on planned actions
  • ERT, IMT, and company staff review updated planned actions
  • Operations and Planning discuss and document strategies, tactics, and contingencies.

4. Incident Action Plan (IAP) Preparation and Approval Meeting: ICS forms and supporting documents should convey the Incident Commander’s intent and the Operations Section plan for the current operational period.

  • Finalize information to be incorporated into the IAP. .
    • Complete all documentation associated with the IAP
    • Command approves IAP
    • Distribute plan to Section Chiefs and other required personnel

5. Operations briefing

  • Provide briefing to Operation Section personnel
  • Ensure support and resources are in place for current and next operational period
  • Execute plan and assess progress:
    • Monitor on-going operations and adjust tactical processes as necessary
    • Measure and ensure progress against stated objectives
    • Debrief resources coming off shift
    • Prepare to brief UC/Planning on accomplishments

At this point, a new operational period begins if the incident is not resolved.  The cycle (the circular section of the “P”) continues with execution of an adjusted plan. Progress evaluations and adjustments should continue until the incident is terminated.

6.  Response Termination

  • Brief command on activities
  • Establish demobilization priorities
  • Identify surplus resources and probable resource release times (only the On-Scene Incident Commander should authorize the release or demobilization of response resources)
  • Verify decontamination procedures and disposal plan, as necessary
  • Plan for equipment repair and maintenance services, as necessary
  • Identify Lessons Learned and apply to associated response plans.

For more information regarding Hurricane preparation, download the Corporate Hurricane Planning Checklist.

Hurricane Planning

Tags: Corporate Hurricane Preparedness, Emergency Response, Emergency Management, Incident Management, Emergency Management Program, Business Continuity Plan