Hazard and Vulnerability Analysis
Emergencies and disasters are unavoidable. In fact, they can occur suddenly, creating a situation in which the normal functioning of the organization can become overwhelmed. In times of an emergency or disaster, the organization requires special programs to address the needs of disaster response. Disaster-specific and general response plans establish systems for responding to incidences, natural disasters, and emergencies affecting the organization. These plans offer an organized response to emergency events. Here are the strengths and limitations of these two types of response plans to help determine which is the best suitable for the organization’s current needs.
- Arguments Supporting a Disaster-Specific Plan
Focused disaster-specific plans, for specific events like fires, floods, and hurricanes can generate a full range of benefits. A key argument in support of a disaster-specific plan is that it allows an organization to be fully prepared to confront an incident effectively and confidently (Barishansky & Langan, 2009). In case an incident occurs at NIMS, the organization would respond by operating on an “all hand on the deck” basis. Typically, panic would strike as different teams fight to evaluate the impact of the incident. There would be a lot of confusion in the air. A disaster-specific response plan would help the organization remain cool even during crisis moments (Barishansky & Langan, 2009). Such a plan would contain specific post-incident instructions, guidelines responsibilities, and assignments to help NIMS navigate the stormy waters.
Another advantage of a disaster-specific plan is that it makes it easy to mitigate the damage after an incident (Barishansky & Langan, 2009). Disasters and emergencies can yield disastrous impacts to the organization, ranging from reputational damage to data loss and financial losses. After a crisis strike, it is important to establish relevant mechanisms to mitigate the possible damage and implement corrective actions. A disaster-specific plan often outlines concrete remediation and mitigation steps which can help NIMS mitigate the adverse consequences that an incident may generate on the integrity, confidentiality and its assets. By clearly outlining the steps to be followed during a response, NIMS can avoid oversight and thus recover faster from any incident.
- Arguments in Support of a General EMP
Perhaps the most cited argument in favor of a general EMP is its cost-effectiveness in terms of money and time (Gordon, 2015). Particularly, this argument is attributable to the fact that this plan demands coordination between all the four departments involved in the disaster management. These departments include preparedness, mitigation, recovery, and response. Cush coordination prevents waste of resources and confusion which occurs when multiple departments act independently of each other to attain shared goals. Rather than the four departments having its own plans, they are able to consolidate resources through a single general EMP. Also, rather than each department having to individually incur the costs of training its emergency response personnel, a general EMP would allow these costs to be split among the departments involved and hence reduce the said costs (Barishansky & Langan, 2009).
The coordination that renders a general EMP so economically attractive also has various managerial and logistical benefits. When an organization develops a disaster-specific plan, it can be problematic because of various reasons. For one, a disaster-specific plan is always in conflict with the other plans of other disasters (Wylupski et al. 2008). Secondly, plans targeting individual incidences could use particular jargons and terminology which may hinder communication between responders in other response plans. Further, such plans are managed by different managers leading to potentially a large number of managers with differing goals hence there is no clear chain of command. A general EMP would address each of these shortcomings via its utility of the Incident Command System (ICS). Some common features of the ICS include a structured chain of command, common terms, standardized job description and an organizational structure where everyone reports to one leader. A general EMP enables an organization’s departments to work in a unified way, a way which enables them to respond to crises more quickly and with a greater degree of precision (Wylupski et al. 2008).
Another strength of a general EMP, which further increases its previously discussed logistical and economic benefits, is the point that this plan is comprehensive in nature (Gordon, 2015). Such a plan promotes an infrastructure of resources which could be used to respond to any type of disaster or emergency. In other words, this plan alleviates the need for separate or multiple plans for responding to individual potential disasters. Particularly, the general EMP consolidates and focuses the various plans that an organization may need to respond to different threats.
- Do you believe that NIMS (ICS) will work effectively regardless of which type of plan is ultimately developed? Support your answer.
I agree that no single response plan is better than any other because of preparedness efforts of whichever type of response plan, including disaster specific and general response plans, add value to an organization. In the event that NIMS has limited resources and funding, then the general response plan would provide the most suitable because it covers all the potential disasters at once. But, as NIMS try to implement the general response plan, it may end up creating documentation and strategies which are either focused on facility loss or which are too ambiguous (Wylupski et al. 2008). Therefore, the general response plan would provide a false sense of security to NIMS because of the lack of adequate strategies and details which would usually enable the organization to respond and recover from a range of disasters.
Gordon, J. A. (2015). Comprehensive emergency management for local governments: Demystifying emergency planning. United States: Rothstein Publishing.
Wylupski, W., Champion, D. R., & Grant, Z. R. (January 01, 2008). Incident Preparedness and Response.
Barishansky, R. M., & Langan, J. (January 01, 2009). Surge capacity: Is your system prepared for the victims of a large-scale incident?. Ems Magazine.