Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Compendium of Disaster Plans

While reviewing (yet another) disaster plan for a client, it struck me that as sometimes happens, Agency A may be mentioned in Agency B's disaster mitigation plan yet Agency A may know nothing about this. Then it made me think about you, the readers. Do you know what plans will affect you before, during and after a disaster? What will others (your boss, your child's school) expect you to do during a disaster? It's a good idea to gather as many disaster plans as possible that will have an impact on you and your family and at least give them a quick review. Here's some ideas:
  • Nearly all schools have disaster plans in place. Parents need to know what is in these plans because when, for example, a school is in lock down, that means that even if you hear about an event happening at your child's school and you head over to pick him up, no children will be let in or out of the school until the event is over. Also included in these plans is basic school closure info (how you can find out if a storm or other event is closing your child's school) to what the school would plan on doing during a mass casualty event.
  • Your place of employment should have a disaster plan; usually these outline what you or your team will be doing during a disaster so it's a good idea to see what it says. Employer disaster plans usually provide information from the basic (what to do during a fire) to the more advanced (how you can contact work and what services you are expected to provide during a disaster).
  • Your city, county, and state all have separate disaster/hazard mitigation plans. Usually these plans can be found on the department of emergency management websites of these agencies. Generally these plans will have little to do with the individuals in a community but everything to do with keeping the infrastructure as intact as possible. Individuals will receive assistance during a disaster as a byproduct of these plans (ie: when the Red Cross or community sets up a shelter, when hospitals and clinics receive medications from the SNS, etc).
  • You may want to find out what your doctor/clinic's disaster plan is. For the average, healthy person, this may not be very important, however if you or a loved one is receiving ongoing care (medications, chemo treatment, dialysis), it is imperative that you find out how these crucial services will be provided if there is a disaster.
  • Many buildings (usually apartment or condo high rises) have a disaster plan. You will want to know where, for example, the AED is kept and where fire extinguishers are located. You will want to know what plans have been put in place for the residents (you) and who would be "in charge" during a disaster (hopefully someone who knows what they are doing, can be an effective leader, and knows that the little old lady in F 10 is mostly deaf and may not hear the warning to get out of the building so would someone please go check on her).
  • Military bases have disaster plans. If you are at work (either as a civilian contractor or under your command) or if you live on base, you will want to know what the disaster plans that will impact you say. For military personnel, this is fairly straight forward--you will muster at your duty station and you have probably drilled disaster scenarios until you could do them in your sleep. For families however, what if your child is at the on-base daycare and you are off base when a base lock down happens, what will happen to your child?
Anyway, the whole purpose of this exercise is to acquaint you with what others have planned that may impact you in a disaster. A bonus of checking into these plans is that you may come up with some ideas to add to your own preparations that you hadn't thought of before.

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