Before Disaster Strikes, Be Ready to Strike Back

Written by ISF

As leaders, we know that we can never anticipate every aspect of an emergency situation. However, with every event, we have a chance to learn. Preparing as much as possible and learning from experience determines how successful we will ultimately be in meeting each new challenge.

Preparation for disaster includes developing policies, plans, and procedures to follow during an event and ensuring we have all the necessary equipment to execute the plan. For example, if our continuity of operations plan stipulates that we will revert to generator power during an outage, do we have, or have access to, that generator? The next important steps are training staff on the plan and performing exercises from drills to full-scale event simulations, not to showcase how well we perform certain parts of our plans, but rather to expose shortfalls, duplications and highlight vague or ambiguous instructions, so that they can be remedied. Finally, by taking the results of our exercises and incorporating those lessons-learned into the original plan, we can ensure we are ready when the time comes.

During blue sky days when no major emergency events are unfolding, sharpening our emergency response tools increases efficiency and decreases response times for future events. Incident-specific response playbooks that we develop can provide step-by-step instructions for our newer responders and guide us through the hectic periods immediately before and immediately after an incident occurs. For example, putting together job-specific rosters allows responders to understand where they fit into the plan and allows them to thoroughly prepare.

As an emergency management leader, keeping track of your team and resources on the front end of an incident response helps your organization avoid confusion after deployment. By maintaining accurate and up-to-date data about personnel, equipment, and pay, you can focus situational awareness and future planning, rather than updating spreadsheets and lists.

Keeping track of your team and your resources on the front end of an incident response will also help your organization avoid confusion after deployment. By maintaining accurate and up-to-date data about personnel, equipment, and pay, you can focus situational awareness and future planning, rather than updating spreadsheets and lists. Protecting responders is job one. Likewise, keeping accurate records can greatly facilitate the reimbursement process following an emergency.

In the past, emergency management professionals have relied on outdated methods and systems like spreadsheets, legacy databases, and paper-based documentation to track response details, but now ISF’s ARRO system offers all of this with real-time pay, equipment, and personnel tracking for faster, more efficient response, recovery, and reimbursement. ARRO is a proven system, in place already in seven states and slated to launch in several others in the near future.

Leveraging ISF’s decades of experience in addressing emergency management challenges and processes, we are further equipped to help your agency with every phase of the emergency management cycle, as you prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate unexpected events. Our expert staff can help you develop plans, design exercises, augment staff, develop after-action reports, and assess vulnerability and overall processes and plans from the beginning of a response to the end.

In the emergency management profession, we cannot afford to lose track of resources in the field — and there is no such thing as over-preparation. So, before an incident happens, let’s get to work.

Christie Luce is an Emergency Management Consultant with ISF, Inc. Visit www.isf.com/ARRO and follow ISF and ARRO on social media for more.