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Pre-incident Planning: An Introduction

 Steps to better Pre-Incident Planning

Pre-incident planning is known by many terms: emergency, contingency, disaster, crisis management planning all say the same thing. Regardless of the type of term you apply to the situation Pre-incident planning is essential for successfully minimizing the effects of crisis and disaster situations in any community. We've all heard the old adage “failing to plan is, planning to fail” . But how many of us put enough time into our pre-incident planning to do all we can to prevent “failing”? Here are some simple steps… a few things to think about… when doing your pre-incident planning:

What are you planning for? 
Pre-incident plans are valuable for any crisis situation or emergency. That is, anything that happens suddenly–disrupts daily activities, jeopardizes citizens and the economy, and of course, demands your immediate attention. The pre-incident phase is exactly as it sounds; planning before the situation happens. In order to do this effectively you have to know or at least be able to predict the possibilities that your community may face. You make these predictions based on your hazard assessment and risk assessment. Your pre-incident plans also become an important tool for successful training activities later on.

Planning Overview
Pre incident planning has a single yet complicated goal; that is to minimize effects of any given situation. again, we have to assess the threat, the vulnerability, and the potential risk of emergency or crisis. Keep in mind that there is no one single plan or pre-incident plan for every community. Also, your pre-incident plan is only as good is the data you build the plant on that is, you only get out what you put in.
Remember, most pre-incident plans don't deal with normal or everyday situations… and routine policies, procedures, standard operating guidelines may not apply in certain crisis situations. Therefore it becomes important to develop policies procedures and standard operating guidelines for disaster situations that go along (hand-in-hand) with your pre-incident disaster plans.

Planning expected outcomes
Your pre-incident planning process will help you ensure that appropriate levels of personnel supplies and equipment are available at times of disaster or crisis. Your planning process will also add your organizational structure and make sure the structure is in place and updated. Another major benefit of the pre-incident planning process is the ability to make recommendations in through the audit process; ensure that these recommendations are implemented. Pre-incident plans can also validate your risk assessment and hazard analysis by bringing all the data into one place.

Pitfalls in planning
 Above all else you must avoid Optimism Bias in your planning process. As said earlier, your plans are only as good as the data you used to build them. Along with that you have to evaluate your ability to implement the plan. Again, you have to be realistic and don't assume you have all the capabilities or resources you'd like. Emergency and disaster case studies throughout history underscore the need for pre-incident planning that emphasizes delivery of a sufficient operation over a standard operation.

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