There are a few of us who oddly came of age with an interest – and for me it is a passionate endeavor – in developing, training in, and using what are now known as Emergency Operations Plans (EOP). While emergency planning per se is now a more or less common task, when most of us who were here before the CPG 101 – when we were coming up the ranks, the drudge job was writing the emergency operations plan and I'm one of the few who actually wanted the job. In fact, I helped other agencies and private entities and finally became a consultant in it just because I loved it. Thank the GOOD LORD for the proliferation of computers and MS WORD, which has made the production of the pages into a planner-friendly process. And, no matter what you think of the various governments and models and all the bazillion guidelines and requirements, you gotta be happy that there is the CPG 101 (Comprehensive Planning Guide 101, a FEMA guideline, available at: http://www.fema.gov/pdf/about/divisions/npd/CPG_101_V2.pdf .
It is a smart, strategic and comprehensive approach. Where I come in with these blogs, is hopefully, to explain it in such a way that it makes sense and if you are an emergency planner, or want to hire one, you will have a good feeling about this planning process.
To start off, I believe it would be good to remember where we came from. Emergency Operations Plans, in the good ol' days came from the CIVIL DEFENSE era, when we were focused on, funded by, and supposed to be addressing ATTACK and THREAT contingencies. Most of our DISASTER COUNCILS and our local, state and federal government authorities were based on (many of them still are) an attack from a foreign entity. We were all about population protection from nuclear bombs, radioactive particles, explosions, air attacks and, air borne threats of mustard gas and other attack agents. Our plans were focused on the organization and assignment of our government resources on such contingencies. We had the CIVIL DEFENSE radio and then television emergency broadcast system, assigned shelters, and cadres of civilian volunteers who were registered and willing and able to organize their communities into protection, relocation, and survival. Oh yeah, we had cool yellow construction helmets and vests with CIVIL DEFENSE all over them. You could pick us out in the crowd!
With the givens of such potential situations, the Plans were organized around government emergency authority and department or agency based assignments. Many of the plans were very straightforward and simple and supplemented by separate plans based contingencies, such as radiology monitoring or field hospitals. Some of these plans had different authorities and were quite unique – each one having its own authority, set of leaders and levels of activation or trigger points. We didn't have a STANDARD set of terms or functions and these plans varied by state, city, county and application. As a relative youngster in the emergency management business, I was very impressed with how military sounding these plans were. And almost every plan had pages and pages of contingency instructions with department assignments and the identification of resources, such as, the American Red Cross, the local volunteers and places or equipment. Pretty basic. And today's planning is pretty much based on the same approach.
What is different is now instead of a whole bunch of separate plans, we have a comprehensive approach with one basic plan, identified potential hazards, threats, situations and incidents, and a single system of authority, management, coordination and control. All of it is INTEGRATED, which means that there are master or primary concepts and each annex (contingency or function) works off of the main concepts (the Basic Plan). We also have multiple concurrent leadership, and try as we do to get it all under 1 INCIDENT COMMANDER; we have to work with various laws, programs, and authorities.
So, after the 80's, we left the simple plan and bunches of other plans, and started to consolidate into one master plan and tried to focus on FUNCTIONS instead of DEPARTMENTS. Hence, the MULTI-FUNCTIONAL PLAN, which was very comprehensive and its signature was the old P and S chart – where the functions were listed across the top and the departments down the side and the P's were the primary (in charge of) and the S's were support.
Into this design comes the Incident Command System (ICS) which provided an excellent model of functional based response organization that was loosely integrated into the plans. This was a monkey wrench into the department based plans and works fabulously for fire type incidents, but was difficult for other types of responses.
And, with the 80's came FEMA and emphasis shifted from war planning to natural and technological disasters and you all know the story of how we got to 9/11.
And that's the thumbnail of plans and their history – I'm sure most communities that have been around for the past forty years could expound on this with very interesting anecdotes.
So, with the CPG 101 – all of the above has come together into a comprehensive guide and I love it. The most recent guidelines bring back the departments and allow all annexes (which are those separate plans) to co-exist as management annexes, specific functional annexes, hazard/incident specific annexes and now department annexes. Hurray for the CPG 101. We can have it all and have it all organized into one master plan again.
If you are still saying, ok, so how do I get started? Hang in there. We'll start on that next blog.
Questions – give me ring or a ping- Jan Decker 253 261 2704. firstname.lastname@example.org