EMERGENCY OPERATIONS PLAN
Emergency rescuers have been trained on how to respond to emergencies with integrity and how to act calmly and swiftly. Roles and responsibilities have been pre designated so that in the event that an emergency occurs everyone carries out their responsibility to avoid confusion. The Emergency management team is on call twenty four hours of every day for the entire year. In the event of an emergency their presence at the emergency scene takes priority. The fire department, hospitals and local police are on speed dial and will be easily contacted in the event that an emergency occurs.
Organizations that are involved in emergency rescue operations are required to possess emergency operations skills. These include hospital and fire personnel especially. Members of the Emergency management team all possess excellent first aid skills and stress management skills. Supplies at hand include numerous first aid kits, flash lights, portable radios for easy coordination during disasters and rescue operations, a commercial radio that is battery powered, petty cash, toiletries, filter or dust masks and other protective gear such as helmets and boots, wheeled carts in case there is need to move material, duct tape to seal the scene and work gloves. These supplies are stores in two separate store houses.
Every member of the Emergency team possesses a beeper and will be alerted immediately in the event of an emergency. Every member has an emergency contact address. The person in charge of emergency operations is designated before hand with a substitute in case they are unavailable. The agencies and organizations that must be contacted are notified that their help will be enlisted in the event of an emergency. The victims’ welfare will be prioritized at all times and their safety must be ensured at all times. All the members of the emergency team are charged with their roles and responsibilities beforehand and in the event where they may not be in a position to take part in emergency operations whether or not an incident has occurred they are required to notify the persons in charge so that there is a ready substitute.
Cooperation among team members is mandatory and especially in the event of an emergency team members must cooperate and are subject to the team leader who in turn is subject to the central authority of the Emergency operations management. The decisions of the Emergency Operations manager during an emergency and otherwise are final and all the supervisors and team members are answerable to him. Should any unplanned issue arise during an emergency operation, it should immediately be notified to the emergency operations manager who is required to make a speedy decision and act accordingly.
INCIDENT ACTION PLAN
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In the case of a terrorist bombing attack the following would be an ideal incident action plan. Among the major sequences would be fire. Adjacent buildings and facilities were at risk of catching fire and also inhaling poisonous gas due to radioactivity therefore it is important to evacuate them. There will likely be a disruption in power and a slowing down of traffic as the population panics and confusion ensues.
A notification to all the emergency rescue teams will be sent and all nearby hospitals help enlisted. The fire department will be the first to be notified followed by the hospitals and the security agencies. In the case of a serious fire it will first be put out then the evacuation process will immediately commence. The evacuation process will have the victims on the ground floor evacuated first and the evacuation will be worked upwards as first as humanly possible. Transportation facilities need to be readily available. For security purposes the area will be fenced and the local police will be expected to keep the public out of the areas vicinity to avoid tampering with evidence.
In the case of such an event the public communication officer will receive reports of the emergency response progress and will be responsible for communicating this to the public. The Office of Emergency department will be the central authority and will be in charge of overseeing the carrying out of delegated roles and delegating responsibilities should the need arise. All emergency response entities will answer to the office of Emergency management who will be responsible for decision making and his decisions will be final.
THE INCIDENT COMMAND SYSTEM
The incident command system is an incident approach system that deals with hazards of every scope, complexity and magnitude. These systems are integrated within organizations under an Incident management team whose role is to manage incidents upon request or to provide infrastructure support to augment operations that are ongoing. The incident management team designates responsibilities and roles for members. Due to the nature of their responsibility they are expected to function twenty four hours of every day for the entire year. The members are therefore on call and on roster ready to be deployed should the need arise. They possess authority and the requirements necessary to respond formally (Molino, 2006).
The incident command system allows for coordinated response in the event of an incident and this usually ensures quick response to them while avoiding farther adverse effects. It is designed to ensure efficient and effective management of incidents as they occur by integrating the necessary facilities, personnel, equipment and procedures that are in operation within a given common organization.
This system enables the incident management team identify the primary concern with regards to the incident under emergency conditions and deal with it while paying attention to every component of the command system. This system is flexible in the sense that it is designed to deal with incidents of any kind any time, allows for personnel from different organizations to work together in the event of an incident by melding them into a common management team. It also saves on costs that would otherwise be incurred if such efforts were applied in duplicate (Daft, 2010).
The incident command system must of course be implemented hand in hand with an incident action plan and an Emergency plan. Creating an emergency plan however necessary poses a lot of challenges. The most common challenge is a limitation in the ability to foresee hazardous incidents, their scope and magnitude such as in the case of a terrorist attack.
The incident command system materialized as a result of a fire ordeal in California that was disastrous to say the least. The fire fighters who fought this fire realized that there was need to address the lack of organized predetermined system to deal with such emergency systems and it was they who came up with the Incident Command System in 1970. They recognized that in the event of a hazardous incident whether maliciously perpetuated or the effect of an accident a swift organized and prepared response was priceless. It prevented further disaster while managing to salvage whatever could be salvaged while saving lives that would otherwise be lost if they were not responded to fast enough.
While there have been a significant number of successful cases of the Incident command system there has also been cases where the lack of its application resulted in more disaster. Case in study is the September 11 terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World trade Center in New York. Two planes were crashed into the towers and resulted in an explosion that led to a tragedy that left more than three thousand people dead and thousands other seriously injured. The tragedy was such a shock and the attack so massive that a considerable amount of time wasted away due to the panic and chaos that ensued. So great was the magnitude of the attack, America had not dreamed of ever being confronted by so great and disastrous an incident (McWhinney, 2004). This essay covers the Incident Command System functions that were applied along with those that could and should have been taken before and after the incident.
Terrorist attacks in their disastrous nature have been one of the major exposures of the vulnerability and sometimes unpreparedness of emergency response teams. Clearly terrorism is always tragic risk lurking in major cities ready to pounce at an unexpected time in an unexpected place. Responding to such an incident is challenging in the sense that it could occur anywhere and the Incident management team has no way of knowing if an attack will not be perpetuated during the response to an already perpetuated attack. Terrorist attacks are sensitive in the sense that their magnitude and length of execution is not predictable (Sullivan, 1997). For instance there is a chance that in the event of an incident the rescuers may also be targeted. The September 11 attack is by far the worst attack perpetuated against the United States of America.
The attacker in their malice targeted the busiest center in New York at its busiest time. The World Trade Center hosed numerous offices and more than sixty thousand workers. However on the tragic day several workers intended to turn up late for work seeing as there had been an interruption in their schedules due to a voting session that was supposed to take place, an event that saved their lives indirectly (Kean, 2004).
Terrorist attacks are one of those disasters that can be guarded against. For a bomb to be planted, the attacker needs access into the area and enough time to plant it in a place that will not raise concern and one that he can easily access. This means that some security breach occurred and somehow a tool for mass destruction was allowed into the area. This especially needs to be guarded against in areas where there are multitudes of people (Mariani, 2003). Incident command systems not only allow for diligence in responding to incidents but also prevention mechanisms to avoid the occurrence of the incidents in the first place. However in the case of the September 11 attack the attackers attacked unannounced and an unsuspecting people were hit off guard. In such cases where no one saw the attack coming preventing it would have been impossible yet the United States exhibited a level of unpreparedness in their response to the attack.
The United States of America has dealt with terrorist attacks before but they were ill prepared for an attack of this magnitude. Usually the casualties were not in the thousands let alone hundreds. Therefore being sure that they guarded against security breaches in areas where there were large concentrations of people it did not occur to them to be ready in case of an incident of the magnitude of the September 11 attack.
The New York Office of Emergency Management (NYOEM) was established in New York to deal with emergencies that required urgent and coordinated management. This decision was arrived at by the NYPD, FDNY and PAPD who found it difficult to respond jointly and work in unison in the event of an emergency especially one that was of a big magnitude. The New York office of Emergency management was charged with the responsibility of coordinating in the event of any emergency. However the September 11 attack found them ill prepared for an emergency of such magnitude and urgency. There was no clear designation of duties and responsibilities and it was easy to pass the buck which only worsened the case. An incident management team as mentioned earlier pre designates the roles of each member so that in the e\vent of an emergency there is less confusion and more organization in the carrying out of the necessary measures which ensures every measure is carried out so that there is no tendency to have excess workforce executing one duty while other duties are devoid of workmanship. During the September 11 attack, the NYPD and FDNY both claimed autonomy in the operations involved in Emergencies and it was clear that either there had not been prior planning of duties in case such an emergency occurred, or they had never dealt with an emergency of this magnitude and had therefore not seen the need to plan for such an occurrence. Either way this was an important feature of the Incident Command System that was overlooked.
Another failure in regard to the Incident Command System functions was the fact that they failed to work in Unison. Each unit, the NYPD, FDNY and PAPD worked solely each under personal management which in the face of such an urgent and intense emergency was bound to be problematic. The main problem would be decision making. There was need for unison in order to make decision making easier seeing as there was no time for delayed decisions and argument between the parties involved. This led to a lot of unnecessary confusion in the evaluation of the units and civilians involved in the tragic incident because communication was uncoordinated and there was no formal way of interagency communication. There was a general lack of cooperation among the agencies involved in the rescue operations and incident management following the attack (Caraley, 2002).
Communication and relaying of progress in rescue operations to the public in the wake of such tragedy is of vital importance. It helps reduce tension and panic among the citizens while reassuring them that the situation is under control. An incident Command System must possess a central authority when it comes to communicating especially to the public. This sadly was lacking in the emergency operations after the September 11 attack. Understandably there was a prevailing tension and panic mode and receiving contradicting information worsened the situation. Coordination in communication would have been taken as an indication of the situation being under control but instead its absence only increased panic and tension among the citizens while the media heightened it by actually pointing out these inconsistencies. This encouraged a lot of false rumors about the intensity of the attack and the likelihood of similar attacks around the country which only served to create more panic and irrational fear. An Incident Command system requires that a public information officer keep the citizens regularly updated on the progress of the emergency rescue operations while reassuring them of being in control (Molino, 2006).
In spite of the failures exhibited in regards to the incident Command System there were a couple of successful application of the incident Command System functions. Their move to mobilize help from all over the city was swift and well coordinated. They made urgent calls throughout the city all day and enlisted all the help they could find and in the process lives were saved. While they enlisted help for the people who were injured in the attack they made sure to the help of the Federal Aviation department to provide air surveillance and air defense a smart move that would ensure another attack especially during the incident management and rescue operations.
During the Pentagon attack, an attempted attack that immediately followed the World trade Center attack the New York police department was in operation. They enlisted the help of Mineta Transportation institute who provided transportation services especially for armed forces in addition to providing emergency shelter.
These were carried out effectively enough even when it was clear there lacked a central authority. However due to the nature and urgency of the incident there was no time to decide who would act as leader and overall manager and such politics were avoided in light of there were lives at risk that needed to be saved. Even when confusion prevailed there was an amazing coordination when it came to saving lives and the victims’ welfare was not compromised in the confusion. There was no doubt that the public and rescue teams were conversant with emergency operations, what lacked was an organized coordination of this skills and knowledge. Therefore everyone acted in the way they knew best with the aim of saving a life.
However, the rescue operations were delayed by the effect that the attack had on adjacent buildings which required a control system. The eventual appointment of a central authority also significantly delayed rescue operations and urgent response to the emergency. The way in which the prevailing confusion was eventually dealt with was commendable. It was clear of course that a prior planned out system for such a crisis would have been way better but the setback was dealt with speedily which is an important feature in the dealing of an emergency. It is important to identify an inconsistency in the emergency response and fix it as speedily as possible (Lindell, 2006).
Much of the success in responding to the emergency situation of the September 11 attack was due to a high level of professionalism in dealing with emergencies among the rescue teams. In light of the many agencies that responded to the emergency it was difficult to come up with a central Incident Command System. The incident obviously affected transportation services and for security purposes only vehicles involved in the emergency response were allowed into the city. This disrupted many schedules but was a necessary move in light of the tragedy at hand.
Due to the nature and magnitude of the incident medical care was required in plenty. Hospitals in New York though caught off guard exhibited a commendable preparedness for emergencies and they were swift in attending to the victims. It was expected that they would be ready in the case of an emergency of this magnitude seeing as they deal with a very delicate issue, human life. Key medical agencies such as the NYC transit and the Red Cross cooperated with the department of health in the urgent attention to the victims. The department of health exhibited a more organized management of the treatment of the victims compared to the New York office for Emergency operations. They efficiently utilized the incident Command System and it served them well in dealing with the sudden medical cases they faced so that they were able to offer medical health without delay and in an organized manner.
Another successful Incident Command system function application was the beefed up security that ensued. It was important to protect the delicate information that was exposed after the attack and therefore the FBI was charged with that mandate. The security agencies in general took up security measures to guard against another attack. Their presence was required for assistance in matters of intelligence and expertise advice seeing as emergency management is part of what they are trained to do. In addition to that they needed to gather evidence while it was still not tampered with for the purposes of later investigation.
In light of this attack, the incident Command System was given special attention after the attack as the nation realized the importance of being prepared at all times. The level of unpreparedness in this case had been sorted eventually but that was no assurance that another incident that occurred and found them unprepared would successfully be dealt with. Delayed responses due to unpreparedness could lead to more losses of lives and property and would obviously be an additional cost. It was also an indicator of the importance of having people trained in dealing with emergency situations (Bennett, 2007). There was an obvious lack of integration between the agencies involved in the rescue operation which is remedy for trouble in future incident management cases. A lack of integration slows down progress and is actually not cost effective. A coordinated approach means that less resources are spent compared to different multiple approaches and also saves on time since decision making is based on a central authority.
The attack also indicated the need to create awareness about the importance of having an Emergency plan especially among State agencies, hospitals and common organizations. It was evident that people were not conversant with Incident Command Systems. This made it more difficult to urgently organize a central command system because the agencies and the public involved in the rescue operation were not conversant with it. The rescue operation itself due to lack of a planned protocol planned prior to this incident was also problematic. The rescue operations lacked a clear definition of what areas to give priority and generally how to go about rescuing the victims especially from the roof top. An evacuation plan was lacking and the teams were at a loss as to though not for long as to how to evacuate the people trapped in the building, especially those trapped in the rooftop. In an emergency plan it is crucial that there be a clear evacuation plan in the event of such an incidence. Delay in evacuating seriously injured victims could cost their lives and such a scenario is avoidable.
However, even though a lot of confusion and mismanagement tendencies were evident in the beginning the general efforts of the rescue teams were fruitful and their priorities were well placed. The victims of the attack were the major concern and disagreements and disorganization tendencies were quickly solved in light of this. The unpreparedness exhibited by key agencies did not get in the way of doing all that was necessary to ensure that the victims were rescued and order restored. However, following the attack and the unprepared response to it, the issue of emergency planning and the adoption of the incident command system by organizations became a major concern and was thoroughly discussed and recommended. Another recommendation was for members involved in emergency operations to acquire emergency management skills and for roles and responsibilities to be pre designated for functions that had to be carried out in every emergency operation.