Planning and preparation for disaster response can be a daunting task for any size government. Municipalities, Towns, Cities, and States all have a responsibility to be prepared to respond when the unexpected happens suddenly. Each of the areas listed below require several layers of details to be added for the activities to be effective.
1. Identify the Emergency Management Response Team (EMRT) for the jurisdiction. This includes, perhaps, thinking outside of the immediate organization and looking to external organizations that bear responsibility in the response to an emergency. Define the roles and responsibilities of each of the EMRT members, how they are contacted, and where they will physically reside during the emergency.
Communications among the member representatives is crucial. How information is shared and coordination occurs must be decided and exercised.
Each EMRT member must understand what resources the others bring to the table during an emergency response. Again, practice using those resources is imperative.
2. Define the critical resources and assets needed in the community for residents and businesses to survive. The entire community must be educated about where critical resources or services will come from during an emergency. Utilities, city water, drinking water, food, and medical care are all examples of critical resources. What are the sources of those assets? Do they reside inside the community, or are they provided from external sources. There must be a plan for replenishment of those resources or services as they are expended.
3. Define those resources and services required by other communities that are provided by your community. Perhaps the local community has the regional utility provider, hospital, airport, or main access roads for delivery of supplies. Each community must have a plan to provide or make those services available, or help in planning alternative solutions.
4. Know Your Community. It is critical that during the emergency the EMRT understand the local Population, Demographics, First Responder Assets (Police, Fire, Ambulance, Hospital), Schools (capacity, structure capability), Communications hubs (capacity, alternate power sources, etc). The number of available police vehicles, police officers, ambulances, and paramedics allows the team to properly plan field support and make rapid decisions. This data must be known before an emergency situation presents itself, and updated regularly throughout the incident.
5. Determine shortfalls and training requirements for the EMRT. Exercise response to a declared emergency, practice communications and information sharing with multiple agencies, and document strengths and weaknesses. Revisit the areas documented periodically.
These items are crucial for development of a team capable of responding to any emergency situation. This is only a starting point to benchmark the organization’s abilities. It does not take a large budget to begin the process to prepare.
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