Having the right people in the right positions is key in developing a robust Emergency Preparedness Program within your community. The establishment of the planning groups is fundamental and is critical that it be completed at the beginning of the process. The question now is WHO from the community needs to be on WHAT group? FORM always follows FUNCTION, concentrate on what functionalities or skill sets that are required when and where. It is not advocated that a change in day to day roles and responsibilities be made, meaning that if your normal daily role is to make the high level decisions for the community, you probably should fulfill the same role during a crises. If your daily role is to maintain the financial integrity of the community, your skills in this area will also be required during a crisis. There is little served having individuals working out of role in times of crisis unless there is absolutely no alternative.
The first step is to identify what functionalities would be required in an emergency, this can be accomplished by examining the roles that currently exist within the community and asking the questions, would this role be required in an emergency?; would the role change in any way?; who could fulfill this role?; is there a requirement to split the role/functionality?; is there a need to develop new roles based on newly discovered functionalities?
The Management group is a cluster of individuals who need the knowledge and authority to make decisions for the community. Normally these individuals are currently holding office or positions of authority within the community and help manage the day to day administration, leadership and direction of the community
Every community has some capability and capacity for response, whether it’s robust and includes responding agencies such as Police, Fire and Ambulance or functional, having Security Guards, Fire Wardens and First Aiders. Again FORM follows FUNCTION, identify the internal response capabilities that the community requires and match the requirement to either an existing internal resource or to a new resource that will need to be fully developed. Response requirements are as unique as the community; there is no one size fits all. Each community will have some of the common requirements such as security, fire protection and medical care, as well; each community will have its own unique response requirements such as transportation, works, communications, and so on……
For the response requirements that the community does not have ownership of or the response is provided by external communities such as government, it is important to understand and document who is providing that response, what resources are available and how to access the resources. There is great opportunity to add response capability and or capacity by collaborating with external communities in providing shared mutual aid resources.
Some Groups and Teams worthy of consideration:
Emergency Management Groups
- Executive Group (EXG) – This is the strategic authority group. The EXG consists of the very senior community officials, in the municipal context the; Mayor, Deputy Mayor, CFO, and in the business community the; CEO, CFO and Chair of the Board. The overall authority lies with the most senior official of the community, elected or not. Usually in a consensus-based decision making model. One of the EXG will act as a liaison between this level and the level(s) below. The EXG will be briefed and will offer strategic advice and deliver executive decisions based on recommendations from the CMT and the Emergency/BCM Manager. The EXG will be responsible for final desicions, authorizing press releases and direct communications to the Media and other stakeholders.
- Crisis Management Team (CMT) – The crisis management team is the intermediate authority that gives direction to the EOC Group and takes advisement and direction from the EXG. The CMT consists of senior key internal stakeholders of the community such as the Chief Operations Officer, Public Relations Officer and various directors of significant branches or divisions, generally those who have the authority to commit resources and funding to aid in the resolution of the issues. The CMT is responsible for the hour-by-hour / day-by-day guidance and authority for the EOCG. One member should act as the liaison to the EXG as well as to the EOC Manager.
- Emergency Management Steering Committee – An Emergency Management Steering Committee would establish the objectives and priorities for emergency preparedness and response, advise on the overall direction of the emergency preparedness and review and advise on the progress and gaps. Membership of this committee would include a cross section of authority and responsibility, (Presidents, VPs Executive Directors etc) Public Relations and the Emergency/BCM Manager. During an emergency, the Emergency Management Steering Committee would support the crisis management team, which would make policy decisions during an emergency.
- Emergency Operations Centre Group (EOCG) – Internal community stakeholders provide the tactical response management of the event, the EOC is responsible for the strategic management of the demands placed on the community. There is the understanding that it is not the role of the EOC to manage the event, but rather to support the site incident management structure regardless of the Incident Management System (IMS) being used. The EOCG consists of the subject matter experts from within the community that are brought together to assist the site in managing the event or to provide support to the non-affected portion of the community in the times of crisis. Appropriate subject matter experts should be selected in accordance with the specific demand of the event. The Comand & Control (C&C) Model should be flexible enough to accommodate specific Subject Matter Expert (SMEs’) participation as required and at the discretion of the EOCG Manager. Having a scalable or tiered system that can be flexible in order to accommodate these SMEs in a timely manner makes efficient use of the resources available. Other key points are that the EOC must maintain management of the normal community functionalities throughout the event, safeguarding these functionalities from impact or minimizing the impact caused by the event; also the EOC must maintain appropriate resource management for the event response as well as for normal functionality.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE GROUPS
The response to an emergency happens by internal response groups that respond to mandated or regulated responses that can result from legislation (as in the case of Occupational Health & Safety Regulations and Fire Codes and Regulations), while others are a result of planning and preparedness initiatives that have been embraced by the community such as Emergency Management and Business Continuity Teams.
COMMUNITY RESPONSE GROUPS
The community, as well as society in general, depends on highly trained and publicly supported discipline specific external response groups to provide service in times of crisis. It is encouraged that these groups are normally accessed through a pre-established access system such as a 911 Emergency System. This comprehensive communication/notification system is managed either by or through a government system in collaboration with the local telephone and telecommunication providers.
Access to essential emergency services such as Medical Response (Ground or Air Ambulance), Fire Suppression, Hazardous Material Management, CBRN Team Response and Policing can be obtained by dialing 911 on either land based or cellular modalities.
In an emergency, Federal, Provincial/State or Municipal government community response capability, assets and programs can be obtained by a formal request through various Emergency Management Organizations.
Every community will have some Internal Regulated Response Groups to manage specific issues. These response groups can be driven by legislation and regulations or developed from necessity or best practices. Fire plans which are generally required by fire codes establish fire escape routes, Fire Wardens and remote evacuation sites; while bomb threats and hostile intruders are incorporated within Evacuation and security plans.
Best practices have developed unique response groups based on specific needs. For those communities that are wide spread or have many large components, Emergency Liaisons Officers have been developed and used in times of crisis and emergency, individuals can be dispatched to other areas such as Emergency Operations Centres, Site Management locations and Joint Emergency Management Emergency Operations Centres. These Liaisons are the community representatives, eyes, ears, voice and communications link between these organizations and the community Emergency Management Groups, predominantly the EOC and the CMT.
Because emergencies and business interruptions can occur at any time, they usually happen after hours, Duty Officer Systems have been developed to provide notification, accessibility, information portal and Situation reporting process through a single point of access. This 24/7 system is designed as an early warning notification system so that all within the community are aware and understanding of events as they unfold.
In order to operationalize this Business Continuity Plan, specific response teams should be developed, resourced, trained and exercised. These teams enable the BCP to come to life in times of crisis. In conjunction and collaboration with the EXG and the CMT, business continuity requires a number of specialized teams to fully appreciate the magnitude of the event, the damage delivered and the assessment of status of the community’s business functionality. This is accomplished through the following pre-established teams:
The BCM Team (BCMT) is the Strategic Operational Team that provides operational leadership and support to the Business Functional Area (BFA) BCP Team and business functional area recovery strategy owners. The BCMT is responsible for the day-to-day management of the BCP and will conduct the annual review and update as well as develop additional recovery strategies as they become required. The BCMT is led by the BCM Manager.
BCP Teams (BCPT) are the functional teams in the operational areas of the community, these teams are responsible for the emergency management of the day-to-day operations of identified Mission Critical Activities (MCAs). These teams are fundamental in developing the appropriate Recovery Strategies and ensuring that they work in the time of crisis. These teams members should be operational subject matter experts in the area of the MCA. The BCPTs will work in concert with the community’s BCMT to minimize the amount of business interruption within the community.
The Security Team (ST) is responsible for the security of the building(s) and the community members or employees. This means the day-to-day security of the building(s), the persons entering and leaving the premises and the monitoring for suspicious persons or packages. In the times of crisis, the security team must have additional human resources assigned in order to maintain perimeter controls as well as to assist in searches, crowd control or watching over detained individuals. In the case of a building access issue, the Security Team must ensure that the building has been cleared of personnel and that no-one enters the building without the appropriate authority. A member of the security team will be responsible for the detailed accounting of all those personnel who enter and leave the secure building.
The Damage Assessment Team (DAT) will systematically examine the building and its contents post any adverse event. This assessment will only be carried out when the building is cleared to be SAFE by an appropriate official. The DAT will document all areas of obvious impact to the building infrastructure and its contents from business operation, occupancy and Health & Safety perspectives. This assessment will be of a high level and not dwell on the structural, electrical or architectural engineering qualities of the building. The DAT will provide a high level report to the CMT so that appropriate decision making can occur. Subsequent concentrated evaluations may occur upon clarification or new information.
The Response Teams (RT) traditionally consist of Fire or Evacuation Wardens who are responsible for the safe and expeditious exiting of all employees at the onset of an adverse event with the exception of a situation that would require all employees to remain in their work areas or a life threatening event that would prohibit employees exiting the building (ie external Hazardous Material event, hostile persons at the entrances or an imposed policing detention).
Another internal response team is the designated First Aid persons who can render emergency medical attention until the arrival of medical response.
The Relocation Team (RELT) is responsible to activate the appropriate Recovery Strategies that will remove the Mission Critical Activities out of the permanent office space. This team will be responsible to develop and maintain the relocation recovery strategy profiles and position them for immediate activation. The relocation team is responsible for facilitating the transition of the MCAs from the permanent office space to the relocation space and to ensure that the resources required for each of the MCA recovery strategies are in place and functional prior to the employees reporting for work. The RELT is responsible for the maintenance and storage of any pre-positioned or stockpiled equipment that is procured for the recovery strategies.
Restoration Team (REST) Once the primary office space is declared safe and is able to be occupied or the affected space is once again functional, the REST is responsible to facilitate bringing the permanent office space critical infrastructure on line and operational, then re-establish the office furniture and equipment requirements of the Mission Critical Activities in the permanent office space. Once the MCAs are functional, the recovery team facilitates all of the other business functional areas back on line in their allotted office space.
The Security Team (ST), Damage Assessment Team (DAT), Relocation Team (RELT) and the Restoration Team will be coordinated by the Emergency Operations Centre if operational or in the absence of an operational EOC, to the Duty Officer or BCP Manager. Situation reports generated from the response teams will flow to the EOC or the Duty Officer, whichever is in command of the event operations.
The Exercise Design Team (EDT) is a standing committee and structured team that develops and facilitates appropriate component, process and system exercises to evaluate established plans, systems and process using multiple exercise types. This team is responsible for the development of exercise standards, evaluation processes, training of personnel, and assistance to community agencies. This team also will act as system exercise evaluators. The Exercise Design Team will receive direction and report to the Emergency and or BCM Manager.