10 Ways to Improve your Coordination with External Agencies – tip 9 be active

Internally, all your plans are written and exercised, your people are trained and aware of their roles and your messages are prepared.  Maybe after your first exercise, you will appreciate that your organization can not respond or recover on its own. The following 10 tips will facilitate your coordination with external agencies.

Tip # 9 Participate in professional associations

Participate in local Emergency Management or Business Continuity professional associations and other organizations that support your industry.  Become an active member of professional organizations such as Disaster Recovery Information Exchange (DRIE) or International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). Join LinkedIn and participate in Business Continuity management groups. Attend meetings, sponsor events and give talks in your area of expertise. Get out of the office and network.

Attend professional conferences such as the World Conference on Disaster Management. They are a good opportunity to connect with a wide variety of emergency professionals from many different sectors.

Participate in Emergency Preparedness Week. Your organization could lead or sponsor a public gathering or invite others to your internal awareness event.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Ten –  Coordination with External Agencies DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

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10 Ways to Improve your Coordination with External Agencies – tip 8 share exercises

Internally, all your plans are written and exercised, your people are trained and aware of their roles and your messages are prepared.  Maybe after your first exercise, you will appreciate that your organization can not respond or recover on its own. The following 10 tips will facilitate your coordination with external agencies.

Tip # 8 Share exercises and training opportunities

When you exercise your plan, notify and include external authorities where applicable.  Invite fire, police and emergency medical service departments to participate in appropriate lunch and learn programs.

Participate in local emergency planning committee meetings as well as in local and regional training and exercises. Experts will often divulge more and better information ‘face-to-face’ then via e-mail or any other form of communication.

Some communities have run large scale exercises that business and government are invited to participate in such as the 2009 and 2011 Greater Toronto Incident Management Exchange.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Ten –  Coordination with External Agencies DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Coordination with External Agencies – tip 7 identify any staff with conflicting responsibilities in a crisis

Internally, all your plans are written and exercised, your people are trained and aware of their roles and your messages are prepared.  Maybe after your first exercise, you will appreciate that your organization can not respond or recover on its own. The following 10 tips will facilitate your coordination with external agencies.

Tip # 7 Find out which staff members are a member of a public authority or support group

Staff members may be volunteer firefighters, Red Cross volunteers or Salvation Army. Your internal readiness and response will be affected if you are not aware of their obligations. Speak to employees during team selection and training to ensure all participants are aware of their organizational responsibilities and identify any conflict with commitments to the community.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Ten –  Coordination with External Agencies DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Coordination with External Agencies – tip 6 document resources

Internally, all your plans are written and exercised, your people are trained and aware of their roles and your messages are prepared.  Maybe after your first exercise, you will appreciate that your organization can not respond or recover on its own. The following 10 tips will facilitate your coordination with external agencies.

Tip # 6 Document excess resources that could be used by others  

Identify and document assets potentially available in support of public authorities and other organizations during an emergency. Some examples of helpful items:

  • Chemicals
  • Fuel supplies
  • Water & foam (fire suppression) sources
  • Communication devices & support equipment
  • Ham radio
  • Equipment (trucks, back hoes, ships, etc.)
  • Organizational contacts
  • Locations
  • Skilled and trained personal
  • Shelter capability
  • Ability to provide food to emergency workers/community

Build strong relationships with supporting agencies by bringing important resources to the table.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Ten –  Coordination with External Agencies DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Coordination with External Agencies – tip 5 understand laws and regulations

Internally, all your plans are written and exercised, your people are trained and aware of their roles and your messages are prepared.  Maybe after your first exercise, you will appreciate that your organization can not respond or recover on its own. The following 10 tips will facilitate your coordination with external agencies.

Tip #5 Understand potential impact of laws and regulations on your plans

Determine how emergency procedure laws, regulations, codes, zoning, standards or practices will affect your plans. These could be specific to your location and/or industry.

Responsibility for maintaining current knowledge of these must be assigned to a specific individual on the business continuity planning team. You may want to leverage your internal legal department. This individual should attend public meetings, monitor press releases and even meet with public officials. They may also partner with other organizations who have similar interests and provide information sharing, encouragement or even lobbying resources.

Hold regular meetings with this individual to discuss any changes and how they might impact current response and recovery procedures. Subscribe to online newsletters or RSS feeds to keep up to date on emergency regulations or continuity issues.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Ten –  Coordination with External Agencies DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Coordination with External Agencies – tip 4 prepare potential documents

Internally, all your plans are written and exercised, your people are trained and aware of their roles and your messages are prepared.  Maybe after your first exercise, you will appreciate that your organization can not respond or recover on its own. The following 10 tips will facilitate your coordination with external agencies.

Tip #4 Determine the information that will be needed by each agency

Ask the internal liaison for each agency to obtain a list of documents that would be required at an emergency.  Information that will be required immediately by public authorities during an incident must be readily available.  Examples of information that may be required:

  • Electrical and telecommunications sources
  • Floor plans
  • Hazardous Waster Storage facilities (ie: PCB’s)
  • Chemical storage & supplies
  • Laboratories
  • Organizations site layout information
  • Secure areas
  • Water
  • Foam for fire suppression

Include in the go-bag an envelope for each agency containing all of their required information.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Ten –  Coordination with External Agencies DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Coordination with External Agencies – tip 3 examine local and regional EMPs

Internally, all your plans are written and exercised, your people are trained and aware of their roles and your messages are prepared.  Maybe after your first exercise, you will appreciate that your organization can not respond or recover on its own. The following 10 tips will facilitate your coordination with external agencies.

Tip # 3 Examine local and regional Emergency Management Plans and procedures

Obtain a copy of your municipal, provincial and federal Emergency Management Plan. Also obtain a copy of and study the emergency operations procedures of local authorities.  You may want to examine public authority policy and procedure manuals for:

  • Fire
  • Police
  • Transportation department
  • HAZMAT

Routinely check for up-dates.

Understand your provincial emergency management protocols. Basic ICS (Incident Command System) and IMS( Incident Management System) training can ensure that internal and external emergency responders are speaking the same language.

Vanguard EMC Inc. and other organizations offer free introductory courses on ICS/IMS.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Ten –  Coordination with External Agencies DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Coordination with External Agencies – tip 2 designate the right people

Internally, all your plans are written and exercised, your people are trained and aware of their roles and your messages are prepared.  Maybe after your first exercise, you will appreciate that your organization can not respond or recover on its own. The following 10 tips will facilitate your coordination with external agencies.

Tip # 2 Assign appropriate internal staff to coordinate with each agency

It is important to establish relationships with as many of the agencies in your inventory as possible.  Assign to each key agency an internal liaison and monitor their relationship. The liaison should have relevant expertise and connections. The Business Continuity coordinator may often act as this internal liaison for a number of groups.

Hold joint meetings with key agencies to discuss and establish expectations for internal and external emergency response and recovery procedures. Gain a firm understanding of their communication protocol and reporting processes. Determine which agency would be in charge at the scene, when control would be handed back to your team and how it should be done. Resolve any conflicting issues.

In your response plan, assign a liaison to work with the local officials on site at the time of an incident. Ensure they understand the role and the type of information they could be sharing. Introduce them to the officials that they would likely be dealing with.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Ten –  Coordination with External Agencies DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Coordination with External Agencies – tip 1 create an inventory

Internally, all your plans are written and exercised, your people are trained and aware of their roles and your messages are prepared.  Maybe after your first exercise, you will appreciate that your organization can not respond or recover on its own. The following 10 tips will facilitate your coordination with external agencies.

Tip # 1 Create an inventory of all pertinent external agencies

Determine who your local and regional public authorities are. Create a database of these groups and contact information for all key individuals at these organizations. Document their potential impact on your plans.

Brainstorm with the business continuity planning team and draw up a list of all other external groups that your organization might have a relationship with during an emergency.

The following list should get your inventory started:

  • Volunteer or non-profit organizations – United Way, Red Cross, Salvation Army, St. John Ambulance, Radio Amateurs of      Canada (Amateur radio operators may maintain distance communications, and support local safety and relief efforts during or after disasters), Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team (OVERT) Inc.
  • Transportation –  local transit, taxi and bus companies
  • Health – public health agencies, poison control, hospitals and ambulance, local doctors and      clinics
  • Regulators – all specific to your industry
  • Insurance – brokers, insurance company, local adjuster
  • Police – local police, RCMP,  Provincial police, 911 center
  • Firefighters – local fire station and the fire chief
  • Local military –  local base
  • Coast guard
  • Governments – municipal, provincial and federal government representatives
  • Provincial Government agencies
  • Federal Government agencies
    • Centre for Emergency Preparedness and  Response – central coordinating point for public health security issues
    • CANUTEC – Canadian  Transport Emergency Center (Transport Canada) –  assists emergency response personnel in handling emergencies related to the transportation of dangerous goods
    • Counter-Terrorism  Coordination and Health Information Networks (Public Health Agency of Canada) – coordinates with stakeholders,  provides early warning surveillance and is an information resource on       health-related aspects of CBRN
    • Emergency Telecommunications (Industry Canada) – the lead role for emergency telecommunications in Canada.
    • Energy  Infrastructure Protection Division (Natural Resources Canada) formulates policies and provides advice to the       Minister on Canada’s critical energy infrastructure protection and emergency preparedness.
    • Environmental Emergencies Program (Environment Canada) – responsible for the prevention of, preparedness for, response to, and recovery from environmental emergencies.
    • Forest Fire in Canada – Canadian Forest Service (Natural Resources Canada) – involved in forest safety in Canada.
    • National Search and Rescue Secretariat – a liaison for search and rescue agencies and all partners involved in Canadian search and rescue
    • Natural Hazards and  Emergency Response Program (Natural Resources  Canada) reduces losses from natural hazards and enhances disaster response preparedness

Determine the role of each of these agencies during an event.  Outline what support they should be able to provide. Obtain at least one individual contact name, phone number and e-mail address for each of these agencies.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Ten –  Coordination with External Agencies DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 10 use automated notification

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #10 Use an automated notification system.

It is absolutely essential, pre-crisis, to establish notification systems that will allow you to rapidly reach your stakeholders using multiple modalities. Some may be on email constantly, others not so. Some of us receive our cell phone calls or messages quickly, while some do not. The ability to use multiple means of communication will increase the chances that the message will get to all stakeholders.

In particular, medium to large organizations should have an automated notification system. In the past, it was common to rely on “phone trees” and teams of callers to track people down. Modern technology offers many options available for purchase from multiple vendors— that can be set up to automatically to start contacting all stakeholders in your pre-established database and keep trying to reach them until they confirm (e.g., by pressing a certain number on a phone keypad) that the message has been received. This technology can be triggered with a single call or email.

Communication is the key to the proper handling of any crisis.  These ten tips should help the business continuity professional prepare a stronger crisis communication plan. A strong crisis communication plan will allow your people to properly manage the message and protect your organizations reputation.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

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