Lockdown? Shelter-in-place? Hold and Secure?

Pop quiz!

You are the Chief Emergency Warden of a workplace two blocks from an escalating protest. The crowd could become unruly and shift toward to your building. You decide to lock the exterior doors, close blinds, advise employees of the situation and ask them to remain indoors, away from exterior windows, until the protest has been resolved. You place signs in the main doors advising that your business is closed until further notice.

Now, from the list below, which procedure did you just perform?

  • Lockdown
  • Shelter-in-Place
  • Hold and Secure

Chances are, regardless of which you chose, a significant number of your peers will have chosen something else. Your answer was likely determined by some combination of your organization’s own terminology, when and where you were trained in emergency management, and your role within emergency management.Picture Blog May 2015

The inconsistency of emergency management terminology across industries, geography, and various schools of thought may create additional confusion or miscommunication during an emergency, thereby placing people and property at risk. We, as an industry, should strive for common terminology among roles and organizations to mitigate this risk.

Vanguard EMC’s presentation at the upcoming DRIE Ottawa’s 2015 Annual Conference will address this inconsistency and will appeal for a push toward standardization in terminology across the industry.

How do you define these terms? Which publications do you consider ‘authoritative’ on EM terminology? Have you witnessed inconsistent communication cause harm in your organization? Please comment below or join us June 3rd in Ottawa!

(My answer: Hold and Secure)

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Enhanced Exercise Implementation at Vanguard

What would happen if your organization was affected by multiple incidents at more than one location? Have your plans ever been tested or your employees exercised in a multifaceted scenario?

In February of 2015, the Vanguard EMC team successfully navigated their most complex exercise to date. It was multi-location (3400 km apart), multi-functional, multi-scenario and included the use of the Incident Command System (ICS) for response and recovery.

The multi-location aspect necessitated tight control of timing in the design phase to keep the exercise sites synchronised. In preparation, the exercise design team worked tirelessly to refine each inject to support the exercise objectives and ensure each participant had the opportunity to practice their role.

Multiple dry-runs were instrumental in achieving a successful outcome. These dry-runs helped to identify and resolve many small issues that, if unchecked, could have become ‘disconnects’ during the live exercise.

The team learned that direct voice communication for the facilitator support is not always required; email and text work well. Facilitator support proved essential to the smooth coordination of the complex exercise.

Vanguard provided an ICS expert for each of the response and recovery teams to guide the players through the implementation of the Incident Management system. Access to an ICS coach was helpful to the participants as it provided them with more confidence.

The Vanguard EMC team was explicitly thanked for our expertise and support by an Executive VP and several Directors of the client organization.

We look forward to sharing our skills with other organizations, helping them to achieve a higher resilience through advanced exercise implementation.

 

10 Ways to Improve your Coordination with External Agencies – tip 10 network

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 # 10 Discuss public authority and third-party support activities with peers

Review public authority and third-party support activities with industry peers. Business continuity training courses and events are a great time to do this. Business continuity professionals who pursue training and further education may be able to connect you to key people in your priority agencies.  Networking meetings, conferences and professional organizations provide other opportunities to gather this information.

Embed your organization in the network of professionals who will provide emergency support and recovery services when an incident occurs.  Following these ten tips will build up mutual understanding and co-operation between your organization and external agencies in the event of a disaster.

(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 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

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

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