Step 5: Resiliency
By now, you should have learned what hazards in the area make your organization more vulnerable, what you would do to protect lives and property in an emergency, and how your organization will maintain operations during and after a disaster.
In this section, you will learn what you can do to make your organization more resilient moving forward through the development of Resiliency Next Steps. These recommendations will allow you to identify procedures, building modifications, equipment, training, and activities throughout the year that will help enhance your organization's preparedness. Consider the costs of each of the options, and allocate resources where they would have the greatest positive impact on your organization. In order to improve the likelihood of implementation, these recommendations should be integrated into yearly training schedules, capital improvement plans, and the organizational budget.
Through your emergency planning process, did you identify any specific plans, policies, or procedures that need to be developed? Don't expect to plan for everything immediately, you will need to take emergency planning a step at a time. One useful way to spread the workload over the year is to implement the Do1Thing process. Do1Thing breaks up emergency planning month by month into manageable topics for your committee. The monthly topics include:
Click here to download the planning guides for all months.
In addition to Do1Thing, there are many other resources which may have templates and specific procedures which can be utilized for your organization. Each resource has a substantial library of documents for your use:
Every organization has employee and volunteer turnover throughout the year. Both your Emergency Action Plan and Continuity of Operations Plan have requirements for employees/volunteers to fill positions. Throughout the year, the emergency planning committee will need to identify and recruit employees and volunteers to fill positions to ensure all functions can be completed.
Look into cross-training employees and volunteers to fill functions within the Emergency Response Team. The more people trained to a specific function, the more flexible your emergency plans can be in a time of crisis.
It will be essential to keep employee/volunteer contact information up to date as they come and go. If you don't have a system to easily enable employees to update their information. Open For Business-EZ has a comprehensive form that each employee can fill out whenever there are changes.
Both of your plans will identify supplies necessary to handle emergencies that could impact your operations. The Emergency Action Plan may identify first aid supplies, Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), fire extinguishers, and disaster kits for any interior shelters. Strategically placed evacuation chairs are also highly recommended if you have anyone with a mobility impairment at your facility. This equipment should be maintained and inspected throughout the year and documented by the Emergency Planning Committee.
The Continuity of Operations Plan will likely recommend more significant supplies to ensure you can maintain critical functions during a failure of information technology and communication systems or a failure of your building. It may be necessary to invest in supplies and equipment to operate off site as well as redundant systems for internal and external communications. The Small Business Administration has template forms to help start your supplies list for continuity:
The Ready Rating Assessment assisted your organization early on in reviewing the status of emergency plans and procedures. Another valuable exercise to evaluate your facilities ability to withstand hazards is a walk-through of your facility for safety and security concerns. This walk-through can highlight physical hazards in the building, recommendations for physical security improvements, and identification of areas of refuge and evacuation routes. Contact us to schedule a coordinated walk-through of your facility with the Police Department, Fire Marshal's Office, and Emergency Management. For some critical infrastructure facilities, we recommend inviting the US Department of Homeland Security Protective Security Advisor assigned to New Hampshire to assist in the walk-through. These subject matter experts will be able to help identify a range of ways to improve your facility to help your organization become more resilient.
Many of the items that can be identified during a walk-through will require no investment at all, and may result in changes in practices/habits, new policies and training, or maintenance of existing physical systems. Some of the suggestions may be installing a generator to maintain power for critical equipment or better locks on doors to slow down intruders. The goal of these recommendations is to "harden" a facility and help mitigate the impacts of the hazards that make your organization most vulnerable.
The Resilient Nashua Toolkit has developed a specific section on building safety, security, and resilience assessments and options for consideration when making improvements.
Training programs should be adjusted each year to keep employees and volunteers engaged. One successful technique has been to develop a yearly training program which incorporates emergency preparedness training a few times throughout the year. It's essential to change each session so that your employees and volunteers want to attend and don't think they will be wasting their valuable time. Switching topics and utilizing engaging instructors ensures and the training sessions are valuable to the participants.
Topics related to personal safety and preparedness are very popular, especially if one could apply the skills they've learned outside of your facility. Training related to bleeding control have been extremely popular and many City Departments and partners have worked to provide sessions on Until Help Arrives, Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events & Casualty Care, and the BCon - Bleeding Control program for any organization interested. To schedule a personal emergency preparedness training for your employees or volunteers, contact the Division of Public Health & Community Services. More resources on training programs to use throughout the year can be found in Step 4: Practice Your Plan.
Many industries have requirements related to drills & exercises and the priority is always to ensure compliance with applicable policy or regulations. As an example, schools are required in the State of New Hampshire to conduct at least one emergency egress and relocation drill each month the facility is in session, including summer school. No more than two of the evacuation drills can be replaced with drills on other response actions (reverse evacuation, scan, drop/cover/hold, etc). While these requirements ensure a minimum number of requirements for schools, they are free to add additional drills to their schedule as needed.
Just like keeping training programs fresh throughout the year, exercises should be adjusted so that people do not fall into routines. For evacuation drills, create artificial blocks on evacuation doors so that people must think of an alternate means of egress. Try conducting an evacuation drill during the middle of winter when there's lots of snow on the ground or attempt to move people to their off-site evacuation location. We can guarantee that you'll find opportunities for improvement during each exercise. Depending on their availability, invite Nashua public safety to participate in your exercises. After each exercise, take the time to do an after action review with your team so that you can modify your plans, equipment, and training program. This cycle of preparedness ensures that we evaluate our emergency planning programs throughout the year.
Community Emergency Planning Spotlight
By now, the local Boys and Girls Club has assessed their vulnerability to specific hazards, created emergency action and continuity of operations plans, and also implemented a training and exercise program. The team from the Boys and Girls Club can now keep the momentum going throughout the year by integrating emergency planning, training, and exercises into the culture of their organization. Each month their emergency planning committee meets to go over the Do1Thing topic for the month, and reviews and improves plans and policies where appropriate. They also look into building modifications that can increase the organizations' preparedness and resilience. After contacting industry experts using the Resilient Nashua Toolkit, a walk-through of their headquarters revealed that improvements to the buildings roof could prevent damage from heavy rainstorms. It was also discovered that the door-lock system in the building was in need of an update, which would improve the physical security of the building. Using the resiliency recommendations, the team was able to prioritize which improvements and updates were of the highest priority, and how they could go about making those improvements. This year, they switched their employee training program topic up from general preparedness to a bleeding control session, which helped to ensure staff would find the topic engaging. They are currently planning to conduct an off-site evacuation drill to expand upon the normal evacuation drills they conduct monthly.