How Healthy is Your Plan?
Many of us are smack dab in the middle of the Covid-19 response. Because of this, we are probably digging out old appendixes, and even creating new ones on the fly. As you work, see this as an opportunity to go over your plan and find out if it is actually working or has the pieces you need to be effective. As we prepare for Covid-19 we need to keep in mind it’s also an opportunity for us to stretch our plans and test some of our capabilities that would otherwise sit gathering dust on a shelf somewhere. One of the things that our current work is bringing up has to do with staffing an EOC. What is your contingency plan for the staffing of an EOC during a pandemic? An EOC by its very definition brings everyone together into a single room to work together, possibly for long periods of time. A pandemic really precludes a traditional EOC from being an option. You need to ask yourself the following questions.
What can you do to mimic the advantages of an in-person EOC?
How robust is your phone and computer system?
Are people able to function in a virtual EOC from their homes, and what does this look like?
Do you need to get resources to an individual’s home, or can they operate with what they have?
What about personal protective equipment (PPE)? You just have to turn on the TV and find out that the N95 respirator mask and hand sanitizer is flying off the shelves as fast as toilet paper. Do you have a stockpile somewhere of your PPE or do you have the ability to access materials if you need them? If you don’t this is a gap and should be a lesson learned. Many vendors have programs that for a fee will place your organization at the top of the list following a crisis or emergency. I had an agreement with a vendor when I worked along the Gulf Coast that guaranteed me fuel if I needed it. It cost me about $1500 per year, but well worth it if I needed to access fuel. We need healthy plans, but if we don’t have them pre-event, we are already behind the 8-ball. While it is never the best idea to work on a strategy mid-event, sometimes you have to. Most of our emergency plans did not include a serious pandemic section. If things in the US move like they have in Asia and Europe, over the next month or two our emergency operation plans are going to grow a lot thicker, as we add additional pieces that we might have otherwise left out.