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Business Continuity and Emergency Response Planning Acronyms

Posted on Mon, Oct 21, 2013

Acronyms are a shorthand communication method used within the emergency management industry. This list of common acronyms is often used in response plans and/or business continuity plans. Those utilizing these plans should be familiar with the language.


Area Contingency Plan


American Petroleum Institute




Business Continuity Plan


Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion


Business Impact Analysis


Blowout Preventer


Barrels per Day


Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement


Business Support Team


Community Awareness and Emergency Response


Code of Federal Regulations


Crisis Manager


Crisis Management Team


Captain of the Port


Command Post


Clean Water Act


Dock Operations Manual


Department of Transportation


Disaster Recovery


Deadweight Tons


Exploration and Production


Emergency Action Plan


Emergency Management Team


Emergency Operations Center


Environmental Protection Agency


Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act


Emergency Planning Zone


Emergency Response Action Plan


Emergency Response Plan


Estimated Time of Arrival


Field Operations Guide


Federal On-Scene Coordinator


Fire Pre-Plan


Facility Response Plan


Finance Section Chief


Gulf of Mexico


Gallons Per Minute


Hazardous Materials


Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response


Hazardous Material Information System


Hydrogen Sulfide


International Bird Rescue Research Center


Incident Action Plan


Incident Commander


Incident Command Post, Integrated Contingency Plan


Incident Command System


Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health


International Marine Organization


Incident Management Team


International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association


Joint Information  Center


Lower Explosive Level


Lower Explosive Limit


Local Emergency Planning Committee


Local Emergency Planning District


Liquefied Natural Gas


Liquefied Petroleum Gas


Logistic Section Chief


Memorandum of Understanding


Material Safety Data Sheet


National Contingency Plan


Natural Gas Liquid


National Incident Management System


National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health


Nautical Miles


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System


National Response Center


National Resource Damage Assessment


National Response System


National Response Team

OPA 90

Oil Pollution Act of 1990


On-Scene Coordinator/Commander, Operations Section Chief


Occupational Safety and Health Administration


Oil Spill Removal Organization


Oil Spill Response Plan


Professional Engineer


Personal Flotation Device


Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration


Public Information Assistance Team


Public Information Officer


Persons on Board


Personal Protective Equipment


Preparedness for Response Exercise Program


Pandemic Response Plan


Planning Section Chief


Pounds per Square Inch


Qualified Individual


Regional Crisis Team


Record of Changes


Recovery Point Objective


Recovery Time Objective


Responsible Party


Regional Response Centers


Regional Response Team (Federal)


Regional Resource Inventory


Search and Rescue


Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act


Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team


Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus


State Emergency Response Commission


Situation Report Message


Spill Management Team


Safety of Life at Sea


Spill of National Significance


Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan


State On-Scene Coordinator


Standard Operating Procedure


Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan


Scientific Support Coordinator


Site Specific Safety & Health Plan


Saltwater Disposal


Unified Command System


United States Coast Guard


Worst Case Discharge


World Health Organization

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Tags: Emergency Management, Response Plans, Crisis Management, Oil Spill, Emergency Response Planning, Communication Plan, Business Continuity Plan, Disaster Response, National Preparedness

New Response Plan Requirements for Select Nontank Vessels

Posted on Thu, Oct 03, 2013

One September 30, 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard announced its final rule regarding nontank vessels carrying oil in U.S. waters.  This final rule specifies the content of nontank vessel response plans (NTVRP) and addresses the requirement to plan for responding to a worst-case discharge and a substantial threat of such a discharge.  Nontank vessel owners and operators must comply with the preparation and submission requirements of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Acts of 2004 and 2006 and requires owners and operators to prepare and submit oil spill response plans.

This NTVRP final rule expands response plan requirements from only tank vessels, for which regulations were initially issued in 1993, to include nontank vessels. This expansion recognizes the significant increase in the quantity of petroleum and petroleum products carried as bunker for fuel and the potentially catastrophic consequences should a mishap result in tank breach. The Coast Guard states that a significant number of today's large nontank vessels carry more oil than many of the tank vessels did as cargo when the original tank vessel response plan requirements were initiated.  These statutorily mandated requirements fill this regulatory gap and enhance the national oil response infrastructure.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the NTVRP rule will improve the nation's pollution response planning and preparedness posture, and help limit the environmental damage resulting from nontank vessel marine casualties.

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act defines a nontank vessel as a self-propelled vessel of 400 gross tons or greater that operates on U.S. navigable waters while carrying oil of any kind as fuel for main propulsion and is not a tank vessel.  The response services a nontank vessel owner or operator must plan for are scaled to the risk (i.e., oil capacity) of the vessel. Doing so allows the Coast Guard to minimize burden in carrying out the statutory mandate and focus on those vessels which present the greatest risk to the environment should a breach occur. The Coast Guard revisions include provisions to allow nontank owners or operators to submit their VRP electronically.

Per 33 U.S.C. 1321(j)(5)(D)(i-iv), a response plan must:

  • Be consistent with the requirements of the National Contingency Plan and Area Contingency Plans.
  • Identify the qualified individual having full authority to implement removal actions, and require immediate communications between that individual and the appropriate Federal official and the persons providing personnel and equipment.
  • Identify, and ensure by contract or other approved means the availability of, private personnel and equipment necessary to remove to the maximum extent practicable a worst case discharge (including a discharge resulting from fire or explosion), and to mitigate or prevent a substantial threat of such a discharge.
  • Describe the training, equipment testing, periodic unannounced drills, and response actions of persons on the vessel or at the facility, to be carried out under the plan to ensure the safety of the vessel or facility and to mitigate or prevent the discharge, or the substantial threat of a discharge.

This final rule supports the Coast Guard's strategic goals of protection of natural resources and maritime mobility. This pre-planning will create vital linkages between the shipping industry and oil spill response service providers (such as oil spill removal organizations (OSROs), salvage companies, and marine firefighting companies), ensuring that mechanisms are in place to immediately respond to an emergency.

This final rule goes into effect October 30, 2013.

For a free download of a Response Procedures Flowchart, click the image below:

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Tags: USCG, Oil Spill, Regulatory Compliance, National Preparedness

Regulatory Compliance Modernization = Advanced HSE Planning Practices

Posted on Thu, Sep 05, 2013

In July 2013, the EPA proposed a regulation that would require electronic reporting for current paper-based NPDES reports. According to the Federal Register filing, the EPA believes this action will save time and resources for permittees, states, tribes, territories, and the EPA while improving compliance and providing better protection of US waters.

The EPA stated that the advancement would allow “better allocation and use of limited program resources and enhance transparency and public accountability by providing regulatory agencies and the public with more timely, complete, accurate, and nationally-consistent sets of data about the NPDES program and potential sources of water pollution.

Because of a technological-driven culture, the concept of utilizing technology for preparedness planning continues to expand. Companies have been embracing the benefits of streamlined web-based preparedness programs because of cost efficiency, consistency, information accessibility, and the ability to maximize administrative productivity. By advancing submission practices and raising standards, the EPA embraces a higher level of accuracy, availability, and consistency.

The most widely applicable regulations are those under the realm of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While the proposal to require electronic filing and reporting would, at completion of the ruling, affect NPDES-permitted facilities only, the concept could be repeated for other EPA required submissions. In the future, other agencies could adopt similar practices.  Below are a few of the EPA requirements that may be applicable to industrial companies:

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) - Permitting program designed to control water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters.

Facility Response Plan (FRP) - Requires an owner or operator of a facility that could reasonably be expected to cause substantial harm to the environment by discharging oil into or on the navigable waters or adjoining shorelines to prepare and submit a facility response plan.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) - The primary governing law that oversees the generation and containment of solid and hazardous waste.

Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plans (SPCC) – Requires developing site specific plans for oil storage facilities that describe spill prevention and response procedures.

Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know (EPCRA) - Establishes requirements for federal, state and local governments, Indian tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and "Community Right-to-Know" reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals to enable a more effective emergency response planning process.

The ability to streamline the regulatory submission process is advantageous for both industry and regulatory agencies. As opposed to paper plans, web-based planning is extremely beneficial for organizations that must submit multiple applicable regulatory requirements. This is especially true when companies have facilities that cross county and state borders.  Despite operating within the same industry, each site may need to comply with specific local, state, and/or federal EPA regulatory mandates. Implementing a web-based planning system with a regulatory tracking element can eliminate redundancies across converging compliance requirements.

RegultionsTRP.jpgA tracking system should itemize applicable federal, state and local regulations and include categorical information that satisfies that regulation.  A tracking system should contain the following components, at a minimum:

  • Operational Category: Categories can range from air quality and hazardous materials, to construction safety and general safety and health. Depending on the detail required by the regulations, further breakouts by subcategories may also be required.
  • Applicable Regulation Level:  Regulations should be further broken down to Federal, state or local regulation categories.  
  • Update History: Date that each regulation was last updated.
  • Compliance Task:  Tasks that needs to be completed for compliance.
  • Compliance Feedback:  Applicable notes.
  • Industry Standard:  Industry standards or best practices that apply to the specific -regulatory requirement.
  • Cross-reference: Itemize list of additional regulations that may be applicable to the information provided.
  • Facility Compliance Responsibility: Person(s) responsible to maintain compliance for each regulatory requirement.
  • Action Item Reporting: Provides a list of outstanding and completed action items, along with due dates and persons assigned. Reports should have filters to customize queries as required by the users.  

Implementing a regulatory tracking management system can eliminate redundancies across converging compliance specifications. Using this database technology allows association of each regulatory requirement to applicable facilities. Additionally, updating evolving regulatory information can be effectively managed across multiple facilities with the use of a database. With required response plans in an easy to use electronic format, companies can easily adhere to new, and future, regulatory submission policies.

For a free white paper on crisis management, clik the image below:

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Tags: Response Plans, EPA, Regulatory Compliance, Facility Management, Emergency Response Planning, National Preparedness

NIMS and Corporate Emergency Management

Posted on Thu, Apr 04, 2013

Preparedness facilitates efficient and effective emergency response. Companies must engage in a continuous cycle of planning, training, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action to achieve and maintain readiness to respond to emergencies. But when an emergency is beyond the scope of a facility’s capability or employee training, a unified incident management approach enables multiple entities to coordinate under one accepted management system. The goal, and typical result of National Incident Management System (NIMS), is a coordinated, faster, and more effective response.

Nine years ago, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initialized NIMS to provide a comprehensive and consistent national approach to all-hazard incident management at all jurisdictional levels and across functional disciplines. Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5, “Management of Domestic Incidents” required NIMS be implemented as a condition of federal preparedness assistance to states, territories, local jurisdictions and tribal entities. Over the years, additions and changes have been made, yet the basic function, scope, and principles of the document remain unchanged.

Corporate entities operate critical infrastructures across the U.S. Effective and consistent NIMS integration by these companies can result in a strengthened national capability to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from any type of incident. As disasters continue to unfold, applying lessons learned to corporate emergency management practices in conjunction with federal, states, territories, local jurisdictions and tribal entities ensure a greater cohesive response and protection of critical infrastructures. According to FEMA, private companies should adopt the following 12 core concepts to support a coordinated NIMS implementation effort.

1. Adopt NIMS:  Work with company/facility leadership, stakeholders, and incident management and response teams to adopt NIMS.

2. Identify Points of Contact: Share up-to-date corporate contact information with local response authorities.

3. Use the Incident Command System (ICS):  All internal company emergency response teams, (such as a fire brigades), and external response organizations should manage incidents and pre-planned events using ICS organizational structures, doctrine, and procedures.  ICS implementation must include the consistent application of Incident Action Planning and Common Communications Plans. 

4. Support an integrated multiagency coordination: The Unified Command and the Liaison Officer may be able to provide the needed multiagency coordination at the scene. However, as an incident grows in size and complexity, off-site support and coordination may be required. Pre planning coordination efforts among the different emergency management entities offers the opportunity for a more cohesive response.

5. Establish a public information system:  During an incident, gather, verify, coordinate, and disseminate information both internally and externally.

6. Revise Plans: Response plans and standard operating procedures should incorporate NIMS components, principles and policies, to include planning, training, response, exercises, equipment, evaluation, and corrective actions.

7. Promote Mutual Aid: Establish a memorandum of understanding/memorandum of agreement with the government agencies and other private sector organizations to share resources and personnel.  

8. Maintain NIMS Training: Company emergency preparedness personnel, as well as any emergency responders or teams (fire brigade/EMS), can adopt NIMS training programs.  

9. Coordinated Exercises:  Conduct both small and large-scale onsite exercises, as well as participate in State, regional, tribal, and/or local NIMS-based exercises.

10. Inventory Response Assets:  An inventory of internal and external response assets should be conducted in conjunction with identified threats and risks. These assets should be inclusive enough to counteract any potential incident.  Share the inventory and availability with local emergency management authority.

11. Coordinate Mutual Aid Requests:  Exercise your response asset inventory during exercises and training opportunities.

12. Use Common Language and Communication Platforms: Apply standardized and consistent terminology, including the establishment common communications technology and practices. These platforms and practices should be shared within the company, other private sector partners, and local emergency response groups.

Note: Non-governmental organizations and private sector entities entitled to receive Federal preparedness funding or grants are required to coordinate NIMS implementation with their respective State Administrative Agency in order to be eligible for funding.

For an understanding of the necessary elements in creating an effective fire pre plan, download our Fire Pre Planning Guide.

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Tags: Emergency Management, Incident Management, Emergency Management Program, National Preparedness

Use "Lessons Learned" to Improve Emergency Response

Posted on Mon, Dec 17, 2012

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery” - James Joyce (1882-1941)

Hurricane Sandy, the October 2012 super storm, affected every aspect of life for millions of residents along the highly populated northeast coast of the United States, and required emergency response measures from both the public and private sectors in unprecedented measures. From every event, whether a planned exercise or an actual emergency incident, lessons can be learned to improve the outcome of the next response. Emergency managers, both in municipalities and the corporate arena, should not camouflage failures or miscommunications from Hurricane Sandy or other incidents, but instead draw from the emergency response to improve disaster preparedness.

Immediately after an exercise or incident response, it is critical to conduct multi-level post incident reviews, gather conclusions from these interviews, and identify lessons learned. Emergency managers should incorporate these ideals into emergency plans, highlight any additional training measures, and inject new responses measures into exercise simulations. Companies should evaluate actual recovery times for critical business processes and attempt to mitigate any obstacles that led to perpetuating the business disruption.

The post-incident review is an evaluation of incident response used to identify and correct gaps, errors, and deficiencies, as well as determine strengths. Timing of a post-incident review is critical. An effective review requires that response and preparedness discussions take place while a disaster or exercise is fresh in the minds of decision makers, responders, regulators, and the public. From this review, lessons learned can be identified and preparedness improvement work can begin.

The post-incident review process is intended to identify which response procedures, equipment, and techniques were effective or ineffective, and the reason(s) why.

Post-incident review checklists should include, at a minimum::

  • Name and typical duties of personnel being debriefed
  • Date, time and location during incident
  • Specific actions performed
  • Responder’s view of the positive aspects of the response and areas for improvements
  • Recovery time and possible mitigation measures for improvement
  • Potential lessons learned
  • Necessary program and plan revisions
  • Effectiveness of equipment used
  • Overall post-incident perception and implications on the company

Key areas of consideration1 that should be analyzed by a review team can include, at a minimum:

  • Mobilization procedures for personnel and equipment
  • Implementation plans and procedures
  • Internal and external communications
  • Management and coordination of emergency response
  • Stakeholder reaction
  • The short and long term consequences of the incident

Emergency response shortfalls can come from a variety of areas or functions. Applying lessons learned to a crisis management or emergency response program allows procedures to align with proven and realistic scenarios.  Utilizing this information provides emergency managers the means of improving applicable programs to better prepare for future situations.

The following five concepts should be examined and incorporated for lesson learned preparedness.

  1. Unidentified potential risk or hazard: A hazard and vulnerability analysis should be performed, and processes and procedures should be developed and added to the plans.
  2. Management gaps and weaknesses: If the post incident reviews revealed weaknesses or gaps in the organization, the emergency response management structure should be modified and emergency plans revised.
  3. Ineffective policies and procedures: If the policies and procedures fail to address key issues during the incident, policies and procedures need to be modified to address inadequacies.
  4. Lack of response proficiency: If response was faulty due to deficient training, exercising, or planning, these efforts should be amplified and personnel should be familiarized with these modifications
  5. Planning deviations: If participants successfully diverged from existing processes, procedures, or plans, these areas should be modified to reflect the reality of the performance.

Applying lessons learned to an emergency management program enables the ability to use experiences as a means to improve preparedness for future emergency scenarios. By analyzing the past, executing enhancements, and reinforcing strengths, companies and municipalities will be better prepared to not repeat history.

1. Disaster Recovery Journal, The Post-Incident Review Process -Can You Correct the Weakness. Mark Morgan.

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

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Tags: Business Continuity, Emergency Management, Resiliency, Facility Management, Safety, Disaster Recovery, National Preparedness

Cutting Red Tape In Emergency Response with Proper Planning

Posted on Thu, Nov 08, 2012

Sandy, the super storm and hurricane of October 2012, created havoc on the northeast and mid- Atlantic coast. The storm brought ashore record setting low pressures, historical storm surges and flooding, destructive winds, copious amounts of rain, and blizzard conditions. The effects of the storm were varied and widespread. Typical daily events and critical infrastructures, including finance, transportation, utilities, and healthcare were affected by the storm. The scale of destruction was immense and, as a result, recovery efforts were tedious and widespread.

Improving disaster response capabilities requires coordination across all levels of government and the private and nonprofit sectors. U.S President, Barack Obama, emphasized the need for swift recovery efforts and instructed federal agencies to be flexible and proactive. "There's no excuse for inaction at this point. I want every agency to lean forward and to make sure that we are getting the resources where they're needed as quickly as possible. I want to repeat, my message to the federal government: no bureaucracy; no red tape. Get resources where they're needed as fast as possible, as hard as possible, and for the duration.".

Often in the aftermath of an incident, processes, procedures, and emotions get in the way of an effective response. A lengthy recovery process prolongs human suffering, drives up costs, and impacts companies’ sustainability. It is the goal of emergency planning to minimize response deficiencies in order to recover to normal operations. Pre Planning and exercising interoperability responses can minimize bureaucratic surprises and result in a more effective and timely response.

In 2006, Hurricane Katrina exposed many of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s weaknesses. Companies should take the lessons learned from Katrina and eventually, Sandy, and apply them to enhance their own emergency preparedness program. Communications with external agencies, contractors, medical responders, or other parties must begin in the planning phase of emergency management.  This interoperability planning should also extend to state or federal agencies, local jurisdictions, and suppliers or vendors. Communication is crucial for those contacts who do not participate directly in exercises. Communications left to the aftermath of an incident may result in disorganized and delayed responses.

The Department of Homeland Security identifies 5 elements that can improve emergency response interoperability.

  • Obtain leadership commitment from all disciplines (EMS, Fire, and Police Departments).
  • Foster collaboration across disciplines through leadership support.
  • Interface with policy makers to gain leadership commitment and resource support.
  • Establish relationship sustainability through ongoing communications
  • Plan and budget for ongoing updates to systems, procedures, and documentation.
  • Ensure collaboration and coordination.

Two-way communication cannot begin at the onset of a crisis situation. Companies need to build a response framework that will support comprehensive, collaborative, and coherent preparedness, and implement the concept of sustainability into emergency management endeavors.

A good response framework is only useful if response leadership from collaborative associations is able and willing to make flexible and intuitive decisions in efforts to advance a response. Drills and exercises involving both internal and external responders, including leadership from applicable government agencies, will allow for a better understanding of:

  • Response parameters and protocols
  • Necessary response efforts for the incident
  • Required documentation
  • Prescribed equipment for an effective incident response
  • Personnel requirements
  • Ongoing mitigation measures to minimize threats
  • Viable solutions for unusual scenarios

Collaborative planning and exercise efforts may validate participants’ positions, align priorities and common interests, and motivate participants to seek compromise for the good of an effective response. These preparedness and planning actions may consequently, “cut the red tape”.

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

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Tags: Power Failure, Incident Action Plan, Resiliency, Supply Chain, Disaster Response, National Preparedness, Red Cross

The National Response Center and FCC Dedicated Phone Lines

Posted on Thu, Aug 09, 2012

The National Response Center (NRC) is the sole federal point of contact for spills of hazardous materials. The NRC, which is staffed on a 24-hour basis, was given the responsibility of receiving incident reports involving hazardous materials regulated under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act for the transportation of hazardous materials (49 CFR 171), for natural gas and other gases transported by pipeline (49 CFR 191), and for liquids transported by pipeline (49 CFR 195). All facilities involved in these activities should include the National Response Center reporting number, (800) 424-8802, in the notification section of an emergency response plan.

However, not all emergencies involve hazardous material or the requirement to contact the National Response Center. Specific emergency and non-emergency notification resources include a series of assigned three digit phone numbers. In May 2012, The U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued “One Call” grants in excess of $1 million to support states' 8-1-1 safe digging call centers in an effort to reduce pipeline digging accidents.

“One-third of all serious pipeline accidents are caused by someone digging and hitting a pipeline by mistake. In fact, between 1988 and 2010, excavation damage was responsible for $438,785,552 in property damage.” - PHMSA

The most commonly recognized emergency number is 9-1-1. Since September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken important steps to ensure that the emergency 911 services and other critical communications remain operational when disasters strike. Efforts to include wireless communication networks into the emergency call systems have been successful. Three digit phone lines are dedicated to a variety of services. While some of these lines are fee based, others are provided free of charge.  The following describes existing three-digit numbers:

  • 9-1-1: Emergency services- In October 1999, the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999 (9-1-1 Act) took effect, encouraging and facilitating the prompt deployment of a free nationwide, seamless communications infrastructure for emergency services. One provision of the 9-1-1 Act directs the FCC to make 9-1-1 the universal emergency number for all telephone service, including wireless services.
  • 8-1-1:  Pipeline safety call center- Calls are routed to local call centers. The operator reports the location of the planned dig, type of work to be performed, and notifies affected local utilities companies. Within a few days, a locator will arrive to mark the approximate location of the underground lines, pipes and cables surrounding the dig site.
  • 7-1-1: Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS)- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted use of the 711 dialing code for access to TRS. TRS permits persons with a hearing or speech disability to use the telephone system via a text telephone (TTY) or other device to call persons with or without such disabilities.
  •  6-1-1: Service Provider Customer services- The 611 number is not officially assigned by the (FCC) or the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), but both have chosen not to disturb the assignment as it is generally recognized across the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA) for being used to report a problem with telephone service.
  • 5-1-1: Travel Information- In July of 2000, the FCC designated "511" as the single traffic information telephone number to be made available to states and local jurisdictions across the country. The Federal Highway administration website provides additional details regarding the travel information dedicated line.
  • 4-1-1: Local directory assistance and Information- These call typically involves a surcharge.
  • 3-1-1: Non emergency- Calls to 311 are routed either to a separate center and handled by non-public safety personnel, or routed to the same center where 911 and other public safety calls are handled, depending on the circumstances.
  • 2-1-1: State specific resource for basic health and human services - As of October 2011, all 50 states (including 37 states with 90%+ coverage) plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico are included in the 2-1-1 applied regions. As of May 2011, more than 56% of Canadians have access to 2-1-1 services. Visit 2-1-1 Canada from more information.

For an understanding of the necessary elements in creating an effective fire pre plan, download our Fire Pre Planning Guide.

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Tags: Emergency Management, Crisis Management, Event Preparedness, Business Continuity Plan, Disaster Response, National Preparedness, Notification Systems, Chemical Industry

The National Integration Center and NIMS

Posted on Mon, Aug 06, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security’s National Integration Center is responsible for managing the implementation and administration of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS is the consistent emergency management structure that has been adopted by countless companies to create a more effective, coordinated emergency response.

According to FEMA, NIMS provides “a consistent nationwide template to enable Federal, State, tribal, and local governments, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work together to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents, regardless of cause, size, or complexity, including acts of catastrophic terrorism.” Yet, when companies implement or utilize a basic template approach without consideration of site-specific details, the result is often an incomplete, ineffective, and non-regulatory compliant plan.

The goal, and typical result of NIMS, is a coordinated, faster, and more effective resolution. The National Integration Center (NIC) promotes this compatibility and NIMS compliance between the private corporate sector and its jurisdictional counterparts.


Effective Response Planning 

Two contributors to effective preparedness comes from the site-specific information within the plans and a standardized response management process by which procedures are carried out. The two concepts, site-specific and standardization, may appear to contradict each other. However when merged properly, companies can strengthen preparedness initiatives and enable a flexible, effective, efficient, and all-hazards incident management response.


The NIC stresses standardization and credentialing to ensure the adoption of common national standards and systems that are compatible and aligned with the implementation of NIMS. The standards apply to the identification, implementation, and development of concepts and programs covering:

  • Documentation and database systems related to qualification, certification, and credentialing of emergency management/response personnel and organizations.
  • NIMS Training Requirements and exercises that enhance agencies’ and organizations’ knowledge, adoption, and implementation of NIMS.
  • Publication management ensuring NIMS documents are consistent and accessible.


Response Training

With properly trained employees, many emergency situations can be handled on-site without additional outside responders. However, if an emergency is beyond the scope of employee training, a unified incident management approach enables multiple entities to coordinate under one accepted management system.

Despite the efforts of the NIC to promote NIMS as the basis for emergency response, the 2012 National Preparedness Report identified a lack of understanding of specific roles and responsibilities. According to the report, emergency managers’ recovery roles and responsibilities were not always clearly defined, thereby confusing recovery progress. FEMA stresses continuous communication and collaborative efforts with responding jurisdictions in order to identify gaps. “Partners should identify gaps in achieving long-term recovery and report upon them to set recovery goals.”

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Tags: DHS, Resiliency, Training and Exercises, Emergency Management Program, FEMA, National Preparedness

Public-Private Emergency Management Partnering Organizations

Posted on Mon, Jul 23, 2012

Emergency management partnering organizations can help bolster national preparedness by bridging communication between the private and public sectors. By actively participating in these partnerships, companies can improve their capabilities in emergency management through:

  • Sharing successful models and best practices
  • Communicating effective tools
  • Joint training and exercising programs
  • Identifying functional funding streams for enhancing emergency management programs

Although numerous state and local partnering organizations exists, FEMA identifies four national inter-operable partnerships that advocate prevention, preparedness, effective response, and swift recovery from disasters through effective education, research, and shared expertise.

The following national partnerships are identified by FEMA:

BEOC Alliance: (Business Emergency Operations Center): The BEOC Alliance aims to improve and strengthen emergency management effectiveness of government, FEMA, business partners, and non-governmental organizations through dynamic partnerships comprised of academic communities, private sector entities, and government. Its goal is to make the private sector self-reliant and self-sufficient during emergencies and disasters through information sharing and shared situational awareness.

Citizen Corps: This grassroots movement was launched in 2002 to strengthen community safety and preparedness through increased civic involvement. Citizen Corps is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but implemented locally. Communities across the country have created Citizen Corps Councils as effective public-private partnerships to make their communities safer, more prepared, and more resilient when incidents occur. 

InfraGard: A partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Cybervision unit and the private sector developed to promote timely information sharing, analysis, and ongoing dialogue between its members and the FBI. InfraGard is an association of businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and other participants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the United States. InfraGard Chapters are geographically linked with FBI Field Office territories.

Ready Campaign: A partnership among the Ad Council, FEMA, Department of Homeland Security, National Preparedness Directorate, and Citizens Corp designed to educate citizens in preparing for and responding to emergencies through national public service advertising (PSA) campaigns. The goal of the campaign is to increase public awareness and promote involvement in a basic level of preparedness. One of the main operational principles within the Campaign is to effectively utilize force multipliers as message bearers and recruiters to encourage action

For a sample Emergency Response Checklist, download our helpful and informative guide.

Tags: Resiliency, Emergency Preparedness, Event Preparedness, Media and Public Relations, National Preparedness

NIMS Preparedness and Response Training Objectives

Posted on Thu, Jun 21, 2012

In 2004, the Department of Homeland Security published the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in efforts to provide a consistent template to enable government agencies, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations to collaborate in the preparation, response, recovery and mitigation of incidents. Regardless of size, location, or complexity of an incident, the nationwide system provides a common foundation to reduce the loss of life, property, and harm to the environment in the event of an incident.

However, a critical tool in promoting the implementation of NIMS is a well-developed training program. Implementing the NIMS Training Program is a critical component of a National Training Program, mandated by the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006. Federal policy requires jurisdictions, organizations, or companies to meet NIMS compliance requirements as a condition for receiving Federal preparedness assistance, grants, and/or contracts.

The goal of the NIMS training program is to create a well-coordinated, sustainable program that meets the operational needs of the emergency management and incident response community.  The following NIMS concepts should be included in preparedness and response training programs:

Preparedness - Incorporating a coordinated, unified approach to emergency management and incident response activities based on chain of command and unity of effort, implementation, and command is the basis for achieving preparedness. According to NIMS, there are five preparedness elements that build the foundation for effective and efficient response and recovery:

  • Planning
  • Procedures and Protocols
  • Training and Exercises
  • Personnel Qualifications and Certification
  • Equipment Certification

Communications and Information Management - Utilizing flexible communications and information systems allows emergency management and response personnel to maintain a constant flow of information throughout an incident. Principles of communication and information management should incorporate the following components:

  • Redundancy
  • Reliability
  • Interoperability
  • Cohesive communication procedures

Resource Management - Managing preparedness and response resources (personnel, teams, facilities, equipment, and/or supplies) to meet incident needs allows for a more efficient and effective response. The foundations of resource management include:

  • Planning
  • Utilizing agreements and contracts
  • Organizing and categorizing resources
  • Identifying and ordering resources
  • Effectively managing resources

Command and Management - Highlighting the systems used to facilitate Command and Management operations/responsibilities for the single incident commander, unified command, command staff, incident command organization, and/or general staff. These systems may include:

  • Incident Command Systems (ICS)
  • Multiagency Coordination Systems (MACS)
  • Public Information Systems

Ongoing Management and Maintenance - Sustaining the administration duties and implementation of NIMS as put forth by the National Integration Center (NIC), and utilizing improved technologies, will ensure regulatory compliance and enhance management capabilities.

For a free guide that details the world of HAZWOPER training, download A Guide to HAZWOPER Training.

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Tags: DHS, Training and Exercises, Emergency Management Program, Department of Homeland Security, National Preparedness