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How to Use This Guide CPG is designed to help both novice and experienced planners navigate the planning process. Used in its entirety.
Table of contents

With just slight increases in the complexity of a disaster, we experience factors such as large geography, extensive damages, high numbers of lives at risk, hazardous materials, and others. One thing that can help us both assessment and prioritization are community lifelines. In many ways, these are identified components of our critical infrastructure.

By focusing our attention on this list of items, we can affect a more concerted response and recovery. FEMA guidance goes on to identify essential elements of information EEI we should be examining for each community lifeline. Of course, you can dig even deeper when analyzing any of these EEIs to identify the status and root cause of failure, which will then support the prioritization of actions to address the identified failures.

First we seek to stabilize, then restore. The organization of situation reports, particularly those shared with the media, public, and other external partners might benefit from being organized by community lifelines. These are concepts that are generally tangible to many people, and highlight many of the top factors we examine in emergency management.

Back in March of this year, FEMA released the Community Lifelines Implementation Toolkit , which provides some great information on the lifelines and some information on how to integrate them into your preparedness. Further, while I understanding that FEMA is using the community lifeline concept for its own assessments and reporting, the community aspect of these should be better emphasized, and as such identifying some of the very FEMA- and IMAT-centric materials on this page as being mostly for federal application.

Has your jurisdiction already integrated community lifelines into your preparedness? What best practices have you identified? In the past couple of years, that interaction has been greatly amplified through a contract my company successfully completed involving the development of exercises for airports. As part of this effort, we designed, conducted, and evaluated exercises at ten airports of varying sizes across the nation, from Georgia to Alaska, Massachusetts to California. Since the primary intent of exercises is to validate plans, we of course requested and reviewed airport emergency plans AEPs from each location as part of our preparation for each exercise.

For those not in the know, the requirement for AEPs originates with Federal Aviation Regulation 14 CFR Part , which wholly establishes the standards for the certification of airports.

21st Century FEMA Document Series: Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 101 - Developing and…

The Advisory Circular is largely implementation guidance. Regulated industries, which airports largely are, often have a challenge when it comes to emergency planning. We see this same challenge in radiological emergency plans as well. Jurisdictions undergo extensive hazard analysis and hazard mitigation planning to identify the breadth and scope of these hazards which should include all hazards, not just natural disasters.

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Many jurisdictions develop very comprehensive EOPs and annexes to address the response needs of each of their primary hazards. Some airports have thankfully recognized the need for expanding beyond the required hazards and have developed plans that better address all of their needs. A single, consolidated plan can be developed that meets all needs.

Airports are an interesting animal. Regardless of governance structure, they are part of the communities which surround them. Larger airports are also communities of their own, having significant capability, sometimes more than the surrounding jurisdictions. Airport emergency planning should acknowledge and involve their community relationships and must address all hazards, not just the ones required by Part Just as with any other type of emergency plan, they must be implementation-ready.

To do so typically requires the added development of standard operating guidelines SOGs and job aids, such as check lists and forms. Plans should also be developed to address recovery issues and business continuity, not just response. An airport, regardless of governance structure, operates like a business, with many other stakeholders dependent upon their stability and ability to address and rapidly recover from incidents. They are also obviously transportation hubs, dealing with large volumes of people and significant dollar figures in freight and commerce.

Airport emergency managers have many of the same challenges as the emergency managers of any other community. Staffing and funding rarely line up with requirements and other priority matters. I encourage community emergency managers to reach out to their local airports and coordinate, as many hands make easier work for everyone. Of course, if any airports are seeking assistance in enhancing their preparedness, please contact us as we would love to work with you!

So much of preparedness focuses on the Response mission area, which is necessary, given the need to protect life and property in the immediate aftermath of a disaster; but we should never leave disaster recovery by the way side. How does your pre-disaster recovery plan look? Having a debris management plan in place can also qualify a jurisdiction to receive a higher percentage of reimbursement. These are two important factors which make disaster recovery even more complex, as disaster recovery is clearly not only an end state itself, but also a bridge between response and mitigation.

The document also outlines the differences and similarities between pre-disaster recovery planning and post-disaster recovery planning. Another important distinction. Many give the excuse of not having a vigorous pre-disaster recovery plan because there are too many unknown variables to anticipate and plan for. I usually throw my bullshit flag on this statement. For the same reasons why we create emergency operations plans before a disaster ever strikes, we must develop recovery plans before a disaster strikes.

While there are unknowns, there are also many solid assumptions we can make for the foundation of our planning. We can identify key activities, assign responsibility, and work toward identifying gaps and building capability and capacity. Once a disaster does occur, we then pull people out of the response to begin drawing up more specific plans for disaster recovery, hopefully capitalizing on our pre-disaster planning efforts.

Much of the document is a breakdown of CPG planning steps in the context of disaster recovery. They give some great examples and references throughout the document. From my quick review, this is a pretty solid document. Across the whole spectrum of preparedness, in consideration of every mission area and each of the POETE elements, we need to start identifying critical intersections which will help us capitalize on efforts. We need to do away with the isolation and siloing of these, and begin working more collaboratively. From this, we will see greater success. For years, the Incident Command System ICS fought that stigma, with many saying that ICS is only used for hazardous materials incidents specifically because of OSHA requirements or for large incidents that required such a high degree of organization.

Following the release of HSPD-5 and the resultant requirements for everyone to use the National Incident Management System NIMS , we finally seemed to transcend that mentality — although we are still seeing people apply ICS poorly, and often with the thought that it will all work out fine when a large incident occurs. Yet, interestingly enough, none of the arguments identify specifically what it is about our current systems of preparedness or incident management that fail at the sight of a catastrophic incident.

Do we need a new system of planning? No, we just need to do it better. No roads, no communications, no life lines. These surprised disclosures are revealed in the After Action Reports AARs of incidents and exercises that test catastrophic incidents, such as the recent Cascadia Rising exercise. Fundamentally, are these losses all that different than what we experience in smaller disasters?

Not so much. Smaller disasters still take out our roads and disable our communications systems — but such disasters are small enough that we can work around these issues. So how is it a surprise that a large hurricane or earthquake will do even more damage?

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That said, I certainly acknowledge the difficulties that come with the combined impacts of a catastrophic disaster, coupled with the sheer magnitude of it all. The processes are not flawed. The issue is a human one. The responsibility lies with the people at the table crafting the plan.

The responsibility lies with them to fully understand the hazards and the potential impacts of those hazards. Conducting a hazard analysis is the first step for a planning team to accomplish, and I think this is often taken for granted.

FEMA Releases Comprehensive Preparedness Guide | Homeland Security News

It is an exhausting and detailed process, but it is highly effective, with engaged teams, to reveal the nature and impacts of disasters that can impact a community. As we progress through the planning process and identify strategies to accomplish objectives, alternate strategies must be developed to address full failures of infrastructure and lack of resources. Assumptions are often made in plans that we will be able to apply the resources we have to fix problems; and if those resources are exhausted, we will ask for more, which will magically appear, thus solving our problems.

Yes, this works most of the time, but in a catastrophic incident, this is pure bullshit. This assumption needs to be taken off the table when catastrophic incidents are concerned. The scarcity of resources is an immediate factor that we need to address along with acknowledging that a severely damaged infrastructure forces us out of many of the technological and logistical comforts we have become accustomed to.


This all logically ties to our incident management system — ICS. ICS is fully able to accommodate a catastrophic-level incident. The difficulties we face are with how we apply it another human factor and integration of multiple ICS organizations and other incident management entities, such as EOCs.

The tenant in ICS is that one incident gets one incident command system structure. This is obviously not a geo-political or practical reality for a catastrophic incident that can have a large footprint. This is a reality that we deal with even on smaller disasters, where different jurisdictions, agencies, organizations, and levels of government all have their own management system established during a disaster. Through implementations such as unified command, multi-agency coordination, agency representatives and liaison officers, and good lines of communication we are able to make effective coordination happen.

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Side note: this is absolutely something I think we need to plan for and tighten up conceptually. Preparedness Conference.