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Disaster Planning for Supply Chain Distruptions

Posted on Thu, Jan 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Administrative and Logistical Considerations in Response Planning

Posted on Thu, Dec 05, 2013

Corporate emergency preparedness can be defined as the preemptive activities that establish a state of readiness to effectively respond to events that could affect the health and safety of employees, facilities, the environment, and/or the community. These actions, which ideally consist of planning, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and mitigating, are required to sustain operational capabilities, despite a range of incident management scenarios.  It is the goal of corporate preparedness to protect individuals, the integrity and functionality of infrastructures, and viability while minimizing the adverse operational impacts of events.

Many aspects of preparedness rely on underlying administrative duties and associated response plans. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), preparedness plans are meant to describe how personnel, equipment, and other governmental and nongovernmental resources will be used to support incident management requirements. These plans represent the operational core of preparedness and provide mechanisms for:

  • Establishing priorities
  • Implementing response functions
  • Integrating multiple entities
  • Establishing collaborative relationships
  • Ensuring communications systems and procedures support incident management activities

There are a wide range of administrative actions associated with achieving a state of preparedness and attaining response goals.  In particular, documents or response plans written prior to the emergency allow for comprehensive review of procedures that may result in improvements in plan and response to actual emergency scenarios. A variety of regulatory authorities govern most aspects of company preparedness administrative procedures and practices.  These requirements may be dictated by company policy, local, state, and/or federal governmental agencies.

A typical response planning process requires ample time for the administrative duties. These duties may encompass details associated with hazard identification, review of plan drafts, exercising the plan, integration of mitigation efforts, training evaluations, and plan distribution. In addition to a yearly review, plan modifications may require administrative efforts:

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

Prior to an incident, required corporate preparedness administrative duties and actions may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Establishing a written emergency management plan
  • Maintaining training records
  • Mitigation efforts communication and documentation
  • Documenting training, exercises, and associated critiques
  • Communicating with emergency response organizations during planning activities. 
Administrative actions during and after an emergency may include:
  • Maintaining telephone logs
  • Keeping a detailed record of events
  • Maintaining a record of injuries and follow-up actions
  • Accounting for personnel
  • Coordinating notification of family members
  • Issuing press releases
  • Maintaining sampling records
  • Managing finances
  • Coordinating personnel services
  • Documenting incident investigations and recovery operations
  • Response plan maintenance
  • Regulatory submittals

Preparedness administrative duties are often the responsibility of an environmental, health and safety (EHS) department. The size of the planning or incident management team will depend on a facility's operations, requirements, and resources. However, each position within the team has unique planning administrative duties specific to the nature of their responsibility. The responsibilities of the logistics section chief, as well as the planning section chief, rely heavily on organized administrative efforts. The potential complexity of site emergency response logistics should be analyzed, optimized, and communicated within the response plan.  Logistical documentation of the expected and actual resource flow of an incident can minimize response time and maximize efficiency.

Before an emergency, logistical duties may include the following:

  • Identify and acquire service and support requirements for planned and expected operations
  • Supply allocation details
  • Designating emergency facilities
  • Establishing training facilities
  • Establishing mutual aid agreements
  • Preparing a resource inventory
  • Provide input to and review the response plan(s)

During an emergency, logistics may entail:

  • Participating in preparation of the Incident Action Plan (IAP)
  • Providing utility maps to emergency responders
  • Providing material safety data sheets to employees
  • Coordinating and processing requests for additional resources
  • Repairing equipment
  • Arranging for medical support, food and transportation
  • Arranging for shelter facilities
  • Providing for backup power
  • Providing for backup communications
  • Recommend release of resources in conformity with Incident Demobilization Plan
 

 

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Tags: Cloud Computing, Training and Exercises, Supply Chain, Event Preparedness, Communication Plan

Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Winter Storms

Posted on Thu, Oct 17, 2013

Meteorologists typically release the first projections of the upcoming winter forecasts in early September. Long-range seasonal predictors are regional generalities based on a combination of historical patterns and current scientific evidence. However, despite the potential season forecast, it only takes one significant winter weather event at your facility to disrupt business operations and affect profitability.

Winter storms cause power outages, dangerously cold temperatures, supply disruptions, safety hazards that endanger the lives of people, and potentially impair access to key infrastructure. In 2011, a snowstorm hit Atlanta during the college football BCS national championship. Some businesses experienced supply chain disruptions, while others had to close altogether. One restaurant /pub owner estimated the storm cost him an estimated $50,000 in losses. The lessons learned included purchasing a generator, securing nearby hotel rooms for staff to eliminate staffing shortages, and evaluating supply chain availability.

Scenario-specific emergency response and business continuity plans can minimize operational downtime in the event of severe winter weather. The ability to identify, prioritize, and respond to natural phenomena is critical for preventing the potential for large financial losses and damage to reputation.

For business continuity planning purposes, a business impact analysis (BIA) should be conducted prior to seasonal risks.  A BIA can identify key business process that may be interrupted during a natural disaster.  Once these processes are identified, mitigation strategies can be implemented to reduce the potential  impact resulting from loss of facilities, infrastructure, personnel, or supply chain.

For predictable naturally occurring events, such as the onslaught of winter weather, planning can be accomplished before the incident occurs. Such planning should include, but not limited to the following:

  • Conduct awareness training, including facility evacuation routes and procedures
  • Coordinate activities with local and state response agencies
  • Communicate recommended Community Evacuation routes
  • Procure emergency supplies
  • Monitor radio and/or television reports
  • Secure facility
  • Secure and backup critical electronic files

Understand the following winter storm warning terms:

  • Winter weather advisory: expect winter weather conditions to cause inconvenience and hazards.
  • Frost/freeze warning: Expect below-freezing temperatures.
  • Winter storm watch: Be alert; a storm is likely.
  • Winter storm warning: Take action; the storm is in or entering the area.
  • Blizzard warning: Seek refuge immediately! Snow and strong winds, near-zero visibility, deep snowdrifts, and life-threatening wind chill.

Business owners and/or response teams should incorporate the following concepts into planning for winter weather: 

  • Monitor news and weather reports on television or the radio (with battery backup)
  • Alert employees or others on-site that severe weather is approaching and communicate expectations
  • Be aware of the dangers posed by ice and snow falling from equipment and buildings, mediate if possible
  • Identify dangers posed by cold weather on exposed piping (hazardous releases, flooding, etc)
  • Prepare and insulate exposed piping
  • Contract snow removal services or obtain the necessary equipment (snow shovels, ice scrapers, rock salt, tire chains, etc.)
  • Ensure that company vehicles have a full tank of gas and are functioning properly (heater, deicing fluid, antifreeze levels, windshield wipers)
  • Ensure flashlights are in proper working order and have additional batteries on site.
  • Monitor ice and snow accumulation on any onsite tanks, sheds, or buildings
  • Obtain generators, if necessary, to re-power facilities or necessary equipment
  • If appropriate, leave water taps slightly open so they drip continuously to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Understand and implement cold weather response techniques  for product spills, as released product may flow under ice or snow.
  • Establish and maintain communication with personnel
  • Consider limiting vehicle traffic
  • Maintain building temperature at acceptable levels and understand safety measures if using space heaters.
  • Notify supervisors if facility(s) loose power or is otherwise unable to operate
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Tags: Climate Change, Power Failure, Business Continuity, Supply Chain, Extreme Weather, Business Disruption

Preparing for Supply Chain Disruptions with Business Continuity Plans

Posted on Mon, Mar 25, 2013

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy’s unprecedented devastation caused havoc on the mid-Atlantic and east coast of the U.S. Infrastructure and supplies chain disruptions occurred across highly populated areas and multiple jurisdictions, severely affecting thousands of companies.  Ensuring ample supplies in the midst of an incident can be challenging. By identifying and pre-contracting vendors and alternate suppliers prior to an incident, a company improves its ability to quickly and successfully respond to incidents.

Hurricane Sandy’s storm surges and consequential flooding disrupted port operations and cut off dockage of incoming fuel tankers. Flooded automated pipeline fuel delivery equipment became inoperable. Power failures ceased fuel terminals transfers of gasoline into tanker trucks, and gas stations could not be restocked or operate pumps. As a result of the shortage, frustrated residents and businesses were forced to either go without the essential fuel or endure long lines and extreme supply uncertainty. The severe supply interruption created an additional level of business continuity issues.

Companies are often at the mercy of the “red tape” of governmental processes when disruptions envelope a wide area. In a business-driven society, regulations safeguard employees' rights, protect the environment, and/or monitor potential injustices. But in the case of Hurricane Sandy, licensing requirements and potential financial penalties exacerbated an already fragile supply chain.

Two bills, co-sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Beck and Sen. Robert Gordon, have been presented by the Senate Transportation Committee to streamline gasoline supply chain disruptions in the event of an emergency.

1. “Bill S-2581, provides a mechanism for fuel merchants to import motor fuel during the time of a state of emergency. Under current law, fuel merchants cannot purchase motor fuel from another state and import it in New Jersey unless the merchant first obtains a distributor’s license. After Hurricane Sandy, Governor Christie issued an executive order temporarily waiving this licensing provision to allow fuel to travel across state lines to boost supplies in New Jersey. The bill would eliminate the need for the Governor to issue future executive orders.” - Senator Jennifer Beck

2.  “Bill S-2582, provides that during a state of emergency, when a retail motor fuel dealer exhausts the supply of a lowest grade gas that dealer can sell any remaining supply of higher octane motor fuel at the same price as the price of the lowest grade motor fuel.”  - Senator Jennifer Beck

Senator Beck stated that the fuel shortage slowed the recovery process. “These bills remove regulatory hurdles that restrict the fuel supply during emergencies when we can ill afford red tape”, said Beck. While minimizing “red tape” helps streamline and ease the recovery process, companies should also prepare for, and expect delayed or interrupted supply availability after large-scale incident.

A business continuity plan (BCP) can help minimize or counteract many of the potential impacts of an incident.  Companies should utilize this tool to prepare for incidents that could impair or impede the ability to operate as a result of a temporary or permanent loss of infrastructure, equipment, supplies, critical staff, or data. Companies  can endure significant challenges and potential financial losses.

The following minimum business continuity planning elements should be considered when developing a BCP:

  • Identify critical business processes to maintain continued operation and mitigate as practicable.
  • Identify the triggering events that initiate an emergency action, and specify checklist items to be taken.
  • Train assigned personnel to complete required checklist action(s) in case business continuity implementation is necessary.
  • Identify typical transportation methods and necessary staffing levels to reveal potential threats to continued productivity.
  • Identify key vendor and supply chain requirements. Transportation delays could affect delivery times of essential supplies. Plan and mitigate accordingly.
  • Identify technology requirements such as back up timelines, communication methods, and if possible, mitigate any potential networking disruptions.
  • Identify and arrange for potential alternate locations, if applicable (ex. satellite offices, home-based opportunities, alternate locations).
  • Identify recovery time objectives for each critical process.
  • Review and update personnel contact information and notification procedures.
  • Minimize vulnerabilities by proactively implementing measures to ensure the safety and security of the facility and employees, as needed.
  • Review emergency action and response plans with employees.

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

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Tags: DOT, Business Continuity, Supply Chain, Business Continuity Plan, Business Disruption

Record Crude Rail Shipping Highlights Need for Preparedness Planning

Posted on Mon, Mar 18, 2013

In recent months, near record U.S. crude oil production has made railcar transportation a viable and cost-effective alternative to pipelines for market distribution. According to the Oil and Gas Financial Journal, total petroleum-based shipments increased 46% from 2011 to 2012. Railroads are stepping in to haul petroleum-based products from locations that lack ample pipelines, such as North Dakota’s Bakken shale fields.  Shale field regions have seen enormous rail loading terminal development in recent months to keep up with output. Much of the railcar growth and resurgence in Texas is related to the Eagle Ford shale production and activity in the Permian Basin.

The benefits of the digital railroad to the future of the U.S. transportation infrastructure will rival the benefits of railroads in the 1800s to the western United States. It will be a true renaissance. -  John M. Samuel, The Freight Railroad Renaissance.

U.S. oil production is expected to increase 24% by 2014. However, crude has little value unless it can be transported to refineries. It is unlikely that new refining capacity closer to production locations will fill the gap soon due to the long, rigorous process required for permitting construction of such a facility. With the delays in the Keystone pipeline approvals, railcars are increasingly being used to import necessary operational equipment to production sites and transport extracted crude to other areas.

In a February 21, 2013 press release, the Association of American Railroads reported that U.S. Class I railroads carried a record 233,811 carloads of crude oil in 2012, which is an increase of 256% from 65,749 carloads in 2011. With pipeline capacity still severely limited in key geographic locations, oil stakeholders are moving more crude oil by rail.

RailCar Crude - TRP Corp

Railcars offer stakeholder flexibility and can be scaled to meet customer’s needs by adding or removing cars, as needed. Railroads see the boom on the horizon and are investing heavily in new locomotives, rail cars, railroad ties and infrastructure. BNSF Railway announced that it would boost oil rail shipments by 40% this year. In far north Fort Worth, General Electric has hired 300 new employees at a new locomotive plant, with the first engine expected to roll out the door soon.

But with railcar growth, stakeholders need to emphasize effective preparedness and response in order to protect life, property, and the environment. Railway segments, whether new or existing, can share common acreage with waterways, residential neighborhoods, businesses, schools, and municipalities. Railcars carrying crude or other hazardous material are a distinct type of risk since they do not utilize secondary containment. If a spill were to occur, the impact could be devastating on multiple fronts.

By creating tactical response plans, stakeholders can identify and plan for key geographical challenges that may delay responding to and managing oil spills.

The primary objectives of tactical response plans are to:

  • Allow response personnel to prepare for and safely respond to spill incidents
  • Pre-identify effective response locations downstream of potential spill sources
  • Identify potential equipment, manpower, and other resources necessary to implement a spill response
  • Outline response procedures and techniques for specific locations
  • Improve regulatory compliance efforts
  • Minimize impact

Tactical spill plans should include, but are not limited to:

  • Photographs of each site (including ground and aerial views, if possible)
  • Maps
  • Latitude and Longitude
  • Land/property owner information
  • Driving directions to the site from main roads
  • Description of potential staging area(s)
  • Specific response tactics for the site location
  • Description of site and applicable waterways
  • Site access specifications
  • Security requirements
  • Waterway flow rates and composition
  • Any critical response information that may be informative to responders
  • Recommended equipment and personnel to implement response strategy
  • Other site specific pertinent issues that may hinder a response

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: DOT, Emergency Management, Emergency Preparedness, Oil Spill, Supply Chain

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.

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

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

Emergency Resource Management and Equipment Deployment

Posted on Thu, Mar 15, 2012

Prepositioning emergency response equipment, whether on site or through contracted vendors, improves companys’ ability to quickly and successfully respond to emergencies. In addition to identifying the required personnel and response teams needed for specific emergencies, emergency managers need to identify the necessary response equipment to meet identified vulnerabilities.

Effective response equipment deployment requires the following minimal pre-planning:
1. Identifying necessary response resources for each applicable hazard
2. Acquiring necessary equipment or contracting with response organizations
3. Ensuring a training and maintenance programs is in place
4. Mobilizing resources in the event of an incident
5. Tracking and reporting deployed resources
6. Demobilizing required resources
7. Performing a post incident inventory and replenishing/refurbishing equipment as needed

Coordinating with response contractors and local and state resources can reduce the need to purchase and maintain all required equipment at smaller facilities. In addition, a well thought-out, tested, and available emergency response plan improves the potential for a rapid, effective response, thereby reducing the potential for an emergency to escalate.

However, in the event of a large scale disaster, FEMA has established the Prepositioned Equipment Program (PEP) to provide additional support to first responders. PEP strategically located sites are each supplied with standardized emergency first responder equipment.

According to FEMA, each site in the continental US has a 600 miles radius, enabling a response within 12 hours of an incident. There are ten PEP support teams located across the United States:

1. Kansas City, MO
2. Middletown, NY
3. Kent, WA
4. Sacramento, CA
5. Columbia, SC
6. McDonough, GA
7. Fort Worth, TX
8. Salt Lake City, UT
9. Frederick, MD
10. Las Vegas, NV

The PEP sites are able to provide and replenish responders with the following:
● Personnel protective equipment
● Detection instrumentation
● Emergency medical supplies
● Technical rescue equipment
● Decontamination equipment
● Interoperable communication equipment
● Logistic support equipment

Resource management should be flexible and scalable in order to support any potentially escalating incident. By coordinating applicable response equipment plans with comprehensive resource management concepts, companies will be better prepared to respond to emergencies.

For more details on available equipment provided by the PEP, review FEMA’s Prepositioned Equipment Program Overview.

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

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Tags: Emergency Management, Crisis Management, Facility Management, Supply Chain, FEMA, Disaster Response, National Preparedness

Business Continuity Planning for Large Scale Events

Posted on Thu, Feb 23, 2012

On July 27, 2012, all eyes will be on the 30th Summer Olympics Game’s Opening Ceremonies. The committee, participants, and spectators are staking that every possible health and safety risk has been assessed, addressed, and planned for. Despite the magnitude, the emergency planning and operational security measures for such a global event has been planned, exercised, altered, and in place for months.

However, planning associated with with this multi-week infusion of activity should not be limited to the Olympic Committee stakeholders and associated emergency and security professionals. Local businesses in the path of large scale events should plan for potential disruptions. The Olympic Committee is encouraging businesses to prepare with the publication of “Preparing you Business for the Games” and a dedicated web page. With over 8 million Olympic tickets available, the sheer population increase is destined to affect typical business practices.

The Olympics, although an extreme in numbers, is just one example of how large scale events can alter “business as usual”. If proper business continuity measures are in place, companies can mitigate or lessen the impact of any potential disruptions.

Business Continuity planning concepts for large scale events should include, but are not limited to the following details:

  • Identify of critical business processes to maintain continued operation and mitigate as practicable. 
  • Identify the triggering events that initiate an emergency action, and specify checklist items to be taken.
  • Train assigned personnel to complete required checklist action(s) in case business continuity implementation is necessary.
  • Staffing Criteria: Increased population may affect typical transportation methods, staffing levels (depending on the industry), and/or flexible working hours.
  • Key Vendor and Supply Chain Requirements: Transportation delays could affect delivery times. Plan and mitigate accordingly.
  • IT Applications/Systems: Identify back up time lines, communication methods, and if possible, mitigate any potential networking disruptions. 
  • Alternate locations: Identify varied locations, if applicable (ex. satellite offices, home-based opportunities, alternate locations).
  • Identify recovery time objectives for each critical process.
  • Review and update personnel contact information and notification procedures.
  • Minimize vulnerabilities: Conduct pro-active measure to ensure the safety and security of the facility and employees, as needed.
  • Review emergency action and response plans with employees.

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

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Tags: Business Continuity key points, Business Continuity, Emergency Preparedness, Supply Chain, Emergency Action Plan

The Supply Chain and Business Continuity

Posted on Mon, Dec 19, 2011

The primary purpose of a Business Continuity Plan is to minimize operational, regulatory, financial, and reputational impacts of a business interruption to accelerate the time frame to return to “business as usual”. In a recent Forbes magazine article entitled, “Why Verizon Has its Own HAZMAT Team", Dick Price, Chief Business Continuity Officer at Verizon explains the company’s business continuity planning exceeds any set regulatory requirements developed for the telecommunications industry. 

"Unlike most companies, Verizon needs offices with racks of telecommunications equipment in several major and minor cities throughout the U.S. and other countries. Therefore the company must work with landlords and various local officials with the buildings it uses. If someone has a fire, and it knocks out our equipment, it’s a problem.”.
           -Dick Price, Chief Business Continuity Officer at Verizon

As with many companies, Verizon’s critical processes includes the stability of their suppliers. Disruptions in supply may be outside of a company’s domain, yet can severely impact the ability to provide “business as usual”.

The Business Continuity Institute recently release its “Supply Chain Resilience 2011” study which examines supply chains and their effect on business continuity.  According to the study, supply chain incidents led to productivity loss for almost half of businesses surveyed.

The statistics emphasize the need to develop a business continuity plan that identifies critical suppliers and alternate resources. Factors to consider in the identification of critical suppliers are complex and extend well beyond first glance analyses, however, they may include those that provide:

  • Certain business specific products
  • Sole source services or products
  • Electrical power
  • Water
  • Fuel
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation
  • Staffing
  • Waste Management
  • Facility or facilities

A business impact analysis can identify potential supply chain vulnerabilities that may erupt in a crisis situation. Companies need to consider the consequences of supply chain failure and associated key business components that would be affected.  Through this process, alternatives can be explored and a business continuity plan can be produced that reduces the impacts of supply chain disruptions.

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

Tags: Business Continuity key points, Business Continuity, Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management, Supply Chain, Extreme Weather, Hurricane Preparedness