Agencies and organizations have different strategies when it comes to planning for emergencies and disasters. However, research and evaluation help emergency preparedness professionals stay current on emerging threats, new technologies, and resource and training gaps. The authors in this July edition of the Domestic Preparedness Journal share important research and lessons learned to assist in the planning process for any organization.
Planning for a natural threat like a hurricane relies on lessons learned from past incidents and can take years to fine-tune the crisis response and communication plans to address the numerous factors involved. This type of threat may not be preventable, but the consequences could be mitigated. Other human-caused threats, like family terror networks, require additional research to identify patterns and key indicators. Planning for these types of incidents includes prevention measures as well as mitigation strategies.
To help plan for and respond to potential risks, threats, and hazards, various technologies exist or are being developed to help build awareness and keep communities safe. These include a range of mobile devices and applications – from those that detect and track threats like hurricanes to artificial intelligence that can be used by first responders in the field.
Regardless of the type of incident, emergency planners need to consider the whole community and ensure that vulnerable populations like long-term care facilities are included in the planning process. While each community stakeholder should have an incident management plan, these plans are most effective when they include collaboration with other stakeholders to enhance mutual aid efforts and resource allocation during an incident.
Once a plan is created, it then needs to be exercised to ensure that team members are trained to perform their roles and responsibilities at the most critical moments. However, preparing the team is also an ongoing process. Being able to evaluate the exercises and their effectiveness in preparing participants provides essential insight to be able to update the plans accordingly.
The highest priority threat last year may not be the same this year. Ensure that, through research and lessons learned, plans are regularly revisited and evolve with the community’s needs.
Catherine L. Feinman
Catherine L. Feinman, M.A., joined Domestic Preparedness in January 2010. She has more than 30 years of publishing experience and currently serves as editor of the Domestic Preparedness Journal, DomesticPreparedness.com, and the DPJ Weekly Brief, and works with writers and other contributors to build and create new content that is relevant to the emergency preparedness, response, and recovery communities. She received a bachelor’s degree in international business from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in emergency and disaster management from American Military University.