All-Hazards Planning: Team Approach

When developing an all-hazards emergency operations plan for your jurisdiction, one of the key things to remember is not to go at it alone. This is truly a group effort, requiring a team approach. Participation at this level often includes chief officers. Company officers can greatly help in this endeavor and should be asked to participate.

According to FEMA, there are several reasons for using a team approach to all-hazards planning.

In a team approach, more knowledge and expertise are brought to bear on the planning effort. The emergency operations plan is more likely to be used and followed if the tasked organizations have a sense of ownership, i.e., their views were considered and incorporated.

In addition, close professional relationships among response and recovery organizations in the planning process will translate into better coordination and teamwork in emergencies.

Planning Coordinator

Normally, the emergency manager serves as the planning coordinator responsible for leading the efforts to develop an emergency-operations plan. Of course, many smaller jurisdictions may not have this resource readily available to them; remember to reach out to your state, which is always a valuable resource to tap into.

The planning coordinator may be your local fire chief, police chief or other city or district official, which is perfectly acceptable.

Company Officer

Don’t overlook the company officer in the process; they’re experts at protecting their jurisdictions. The company officers have their boots on the ground in your districts day in and day out, running calls and becoming familiar and aware of all hazards around them; they should have valuable information to share for the planning process.

Other Public-Safety Representatives

If the response depends on teamwork, the planning process should involve all disciplines that could possibly be involved in the response process. Key officials should be identified to represent each discipline during the planning process. These officials may have valuable insight and information that the coordinator lacks or is simply not aware of, as well as creative solutions to solve problems.

These key officials are also tasked with identifying who else in their organizations will also participate in the planning process, for the fire department, this could possibly include all levels of operation, including the company officer.

The planning team should be drawn from various groups that have a potential role in the response and mitigation efforts, which should involve the company officer. The important thing to remember is that the planning coordinator has the responsibility to ensure that the planning team has a good representation of all organizations involved. FEMA recommends the following potential planning team members, which is not all inclusive:

  • The office of the chief executive
  • Law enforcement
  • Fire department, chief officers, company officers, other experts
  • Emergency medical service providers
  • 911 dispatchers
  • Existing planning agencies (e.g., community development, economic development)
  • Hazard mitigation planner/emergency manager
  • Local emergency planning committees
  • Public works
  • Social service agencies and volunteer organizations (e.g., American Red Cross)
  • Area hospitals, medical examiner, coroner and others
  • Education administrators
  • Public information officers 
  • Local media
  • Industrial and military installations in the area
  • State aviation authority
  • Port authorities
  • Legal counsel
  • Chief financial officers, auditors
  • Labor and professional organizations
  • Animal care
  • Amateur radio groups
  • Emergency managers and agency representatives from neighboring jurisdictions
  • State and federal representatives, as appropriate

This list doesn’t cover all potential players; every jurisdiction is different and so have different needs to address.

You won’t fully succeed in this task with only one viewpoint. Remember that you don’t have to start from scratch:

  • Use information from others near you.
  • Repurpose existing plans you may already have.
  • Log into IAFC KnowledgeNet to find ideas and resources being posted on a daily basis.

Remember, make this a team effort. There’s no reason to take this task on alone.

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