The creation of emergency preparedness plans is not a singular event. It requires continuous or regular planning, training, revision and education outreach to the public.
Disaster response is a highly intricate and coordinated effort among local, state and federal governments, law enforcement or military, hospitals and other community organizations and agencies. To prevent incidents, contain them and minimize destruction, the consideration of all possible scenarios and the concerted response to them reduces public panic, threat exposure and casualties of life or property.
Effective emergency preparedness plans or recovery plans ideally have certain key attributes:
- They have a clearly defined scope, like focusing on coordination or operations, hazards assessment or clearly defined critical functions.
- They are realistic; assumptions are based on hard evidence. Capabilities are relevant and extant, and gaps are clearly identified.
- They are flexible. While it’s impossible to plan for each and every scenario, sound emergency preparedness plans and recovery plans provide a scalable response organization and state how, when and where responses should be triggered and escalated.
- They clearly spell out roles and responsibilities among entities before, during and after major events.
Creating an emergency plan usually follows in these steps:
Create a multidisciplinary planning team.
Identify stakeholders who may be first (and secondary) responders in an emergency. Creative and innovative solutions arise with the value of multiple perspectives.
Understand the emergency.
Researching and analyzing specific threats and situations can make the planning process less abstract and provide the path to concrete steps that provide successful outcomes.
State goals and objectives.
Resulting from the situational analysis, emergency planners consider how the emergency might unfold in the area, including prevention, warning, protection, area impact and consequences as well as what would define a successful response operation.
Create, review and approve the plan.
Scenarios that arise during the situational analysis phase are used to determine courses of action and response alternatives. The plan undergoes several drafts and is sent to all relevant stakeholders to solicit their input.
Implement and maintain the plan.
Emergency preparedness plans and recovery plans should be well-maintained, meaning that they are regularly tested, exercised via drills and revised or updated to keep them relevant. Emergency planners should also solicit feedback from other jurisdictions to share learnings and experiences.
While not officially part of the emergency preparedness plans process, it is also critical for public-facing entities to have a concerted educational outreach effort to inform civilians of impending emergencies how to prepare for them and the availability of local resources and information about evacuations, road closings, emergency shelters, response times, etc. Keeping the public informed can reduce injuries, casualties, property loss and panic. In addition, certain measures should be taken in regard to special populations such as the elderly, disabled or people with language barriers.
In an uncertain world, the need for the emergency planner job is only going to grow. By the year 2022, the job outlook for emergency management has a growth expectation between 5% to 8%.
Adding to the urgency is the fact that while concern for disaster preparedness is significant among federal executives, the resources for proper disaster response may be lacking at those levels as well, and many admit they are not well-prepared:
- Only 57% have a published policy operations continuity plan, and
- 29% don't know if their agency even has a published plan for operations during a disaster or say that their agency has taken no action whatsoever.
This makes the field of public administration careers even more vital. Those who hold a Master in Public Administration (MPA) degree will be well-positioned to enter an emergency planner job and create a vital and successful career in protecting the public. For those considering pursuing public administration careers, the first step is attaining an MPA degree. The rise of online education makes many MPA degree programs, such as the one at Anna Maria College, accessible and flexible for busy working adults.
For more information about Anna Maria’s Online Master in Public Administration (MPA), contact us today at 877-265-3201 or visit online.annamaria.edu/mpa.
- “5 key qualities of good emergency planning: Can we plan a disaster response? If so, how?” Disaster Resource Guide. http://www.disaster-resource.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=975 (accessed July 29, 2016).
- “Emergency Planning.” FEMA. http://training.fema.gov/emiweb/is/is235b/is235b.pdf (accessed July 29, 2016).
- “Special Populations: Emergency and Disaster Preparedness.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://sis.nlm.nih.gov/outreach/specialpopulationsanddisasters.html (accessed July 29, 2016).
- “Emergency Management Preparedness Fundamentals.” FEMA. https://emilms.fema.gov/is910a/EMPFsummary.htm (accessed July 29, 2016).