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What good plans have that bad ones don't

Six points that every plan must have.
  1. Good plans are your plans. Taking the time to follow your own process and cover the basics of pre-incident planning pays huge benefits. Plans that are based on a template or borrowed from another agency are difficult to work with. Planning is not a one size fits all proposition.  The copy and paste template approach opens up gaps with little room for meeting the needs of your community and may be damaging to your credibility. Take the time to follow your planning process and do your own assessments and write your biologic event plan for the unique needs of you community. Do this and you'll be well on the way to preventing planning error and saving lives. Learn more about incident planning click here
  2. Good plans follow the exercise design process. Mainstream thinking is to write a plan then test the plan with a series of drills and exercises, then reevaluate the plan and edit as needed. I suggest turning this procedure upside down...challenge your people with a scenario presented in a tabletop exercise (TTX) and let their actions be the foundation for writing your plan. A simple TTX that is well thought out will give your people the ability to express concerns and put forth ideas that should become part of your plan. Your response community will feel like a valued part of the planning process (because they are!) making buy-in easier. You'll still need to follow the proper steps in establishing the plan such as training and reevaluating. Click here for tips on exercise design and click here for even more on the use and design of exercises.
  3. Good plans are written with your personnel in mind. Consider your personnel and their needs in any crisis event and the protection of personnel while drafting your biologic plan. Studies have indicated that large numbers of any workforce will be impacted by illness in a biologic event. Those that remain healthy may be indirectly impacted resulting from the need to care for family members or children who become ill. Some healthy persons may stay away from the workplace simply out of fear of the disease itself. Your plan should address the family care and education issues.
  4. Good plans are ready to receive help. A biological plan must have provisions for requesting and receiving help. Help can be in the form of mutual aid from local jurisdictions, state or Federal agencies. We're not talking only about money. Receipt of large resources such as the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile will be impossible to manage without a per-arrival plan. 
  5. Good plans distribute factual information. In the pre-incident environment information about the plan and areas of responsibility within the plan are crucial. Getting this information out to those who are responsible for actions within the plan will help ensure readiness. Plan for getting information out to the public. Public information planning should be in every emergency planners toolbox. Public Information Officers (PIO) and Joint Information Centers (JIC) are critical to a consistent and factual message. Social media, including text messaging and podcasting can also be used to your advantage. I recommend pre-event material be written/recorded and ready to be released much like press releases written ahead of time for any given event. 
  6. Good plans are made to be shared. Notice I said shared...not copied. Sharing your plans with other organizations within your jurisdiction brings the response community together. This applies to healthcare planning as well. Hospitals and healthcare systems should share their plans and compare planning needs with other institutions.

1 comment:

  1. Rick,

    You raise a couple of interesting points with this post. We have always said that we conduct exercises to test the plans not the people and when it is all said and done it is the people who implement the plan. Lets call an exercise and exercise and be honest we will test plans, people, assets, ideas, decision making and the quality of the coffee.

    As for designing an exercise and then building your plan based on the results thats an interesting approach. All I can add is that no matter how you get there you must get there. Have a plan and make sure it is supported by an exercise process.

    A "cut and paste" plan will cause you problems. I have seen versions of plans that were "borrowed" from other jurisdictions which addressed hazards or referred to assets that did not exist.

    Make your plan your own, test it, train your folks, test it again and revise it to suit the needs.


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