Skip to Main Content Skip to Footer



Educational institutions throughout North America and around the world must prepare for unusual conditions that disrupt or otherwise affect the normal flow of operations. Some of these conditions might require urgent and immediate action on the campus in an effort to save lives and protect property and environment. Other conditions might require the institution to simply react to a national tragedy and absorb the grief felt by the campus community. Regardless, facilities managers have a vital role in helping the campus to reduce the effects of emergencies, prepare the campus for emergency action, respond to emergencies, and recover from any loss of life and damage to property.

The emergency management community believes that all emergencies are local. However, resources to respond to these emergencies can come from all over the country, depending on the scale of the event. Although facilities managers will operate in the hub of preparedness, emergency response, and business continuity, they also must understand the full span of resources, whether local, state, federal, or nongovernmental. They must know how to operate with those external resources, and they must understand the language of emergency responders.

Facilities managers play a critical role in emergency preparedness and business continuity. They direct responders, provide logistical support, and assist with short-term planning during the event as well as long-term planning for recovery. Depending on the size and scope of campus operations, a person or group already might be performing the duties of emergency manager. If so, the facilities manager must integrate activities and programs with that effort. If not, the facilities manager must lead that effort.

Regardless of whether the role is leader or follower, the facilities manager will be a vital component in all phases of emergency management planning and operations. As a subject matter expert on facilities, utilities, and operations, the facilities manager must be a credible asset to the organization in times of emergency.

This chapter prepares facilities managers for their central role in mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Comprehensive Preparedness


Types of Emergencies

The three basic types of emergencies are natural, technological, and man-made. Natural emergencies include weather, earthquakes, and some fires. Technological emergencies include utility outages, communications failures, structural fires, and hazardous materials releases. Man-made emergencies, in the vernacular of emergency preparedness and management, usually include intentional acts such as active shooter situations, attacks on information technology assets, vandalism, and civil unrest.

Categorizing emergencies allows planners to concentrate on a single type of emergency when developing a list of potential threat scenarios. Natural threats largely result from the location of the facility — for example, proximity to a coast will increase hurricane exposure while proximity to geologic faults will increase earthquake exposure. Technological threats are the result of the institution’s facilities and operations — for example, an ammonia-based central chilling plant presents a different threat profile than one operating on halogenated hydrocarbon refrigerants. Man-made threats often are the result of the organization’s relationship to its community, but some threats can surface at any time and in almost any circumstance. Regardless of the type of emergency, facilities managers should use the same comprehensive approach to preparedness to increase resiliency.

Threat and Risk Assessment

The facilities manager, working as or with the organization’s emergency manager, will need to be familiar with threat and risk assessment to facilitate creation and implementation of an emergency plan.

Under an all-hazards approach, the organization must evaluate threats to people, facilities, operations, and information technology. These threats can come from inside the organization (endogenous) or outside the organization (exogenous). Threat assessment involves reviewing a comprehensive list of possible threats and determining the probability and consequences of each. The threat assessment team needs to determine the level of impact on people, facilities, operations, and technology that would result from each scenario. Because few organizations have an actual history with many occurrences of emergencies, most use subjective determinations of the impact of a potential threat. A comprehensive approach to threat assessment uses multiple methods to measure impact — a denial-of-service attack on the organization’s website or enterprise financial system might not have a cost in lives or property, but it certainly does affect operations.

Risk assessment occurs by integrating probability and consequence and then deciding where to apply focused planning. A threat that occurs often but has low operational consequence (a 24-hour operational outage caused by weather, for instance) can be more important to plan for than the infrequent devastating threat. Risk assessment will vary by location and complexity of operations. Prudent emergency managers plan for man-made threats regardless of location and complexity — workplace violence or a murder-suicide can occur anywhere.

Homeland Security Presidential Directives

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the executive branch of the federal government has operated an integrated national preparedness campaign under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Between October 2001 and January 2009, the George W. Bush administration issued 25 Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs) covering many aspects of national security as well as emergency planning and management. Two of these directives are especially relevant to how higher education institutions plan for, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

First, HSPD-5 created the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which seeks to improve the way that on-scene responders interact with emergency management and external agencies. Second, HSPD-8 created a national all-hazards preparedness goal for the federal government. In February 2009, President Barack Obama rescinded HSPD-8 and its associated national planning annex and replaced it with Presidential Policy Directive 8.

Incident Command System

Emergency responders in the California urban interface developed the Incident Command System (ICS) to support wildfire responses. ICS provides responders with a scalable structure that emphasizes unity of command, clear communication, management by objective, flexible organization, and application of span of control. In emergency management, span of control defines the minimum and maximum number of direct reports that any one responder should have during an incident. ICS envisions that no responder will have fewer than three direct reports or more than seven. This application of span of control reinforces the notion that small groups should operate as peers and large groups need layers to function effectively. ICS creates shared authority, a high degree of individual accountability, and efficient allocation of response assets to the areas of greatest need.

Most municipal fire departments and multi-agency response teams operate in the context of ICS. Structuring a campus response capacity to use ICS will facilitate response, reduce duration and severity of outage caused by an emergency, and improve responder safety.

ICS divides response duties into five major areas: command, operations, planning, logistics, and finance. Command functions include incident commander, site safety officer, public information officer, and liaison officers. Operations functions are the main response elements — that is, groups of responders performing the actual work that the emergency situation dictates. The planning group advises the incident commander on upcoming resource needs and provides reports on any shifting conditions, such as weather. Lengthier emergency response actions require more active planning during the response. The logistics section provides the necessary tools and resources for the response, including managing all staging of response equipment. The finance and administration branch manages all record keeping, procurement, and accounting functions of a response.

Because the system adjusts to the scale of the event, one responder can perform multiple tasks. When objectives overload responders, the incident commander must change assignments. Of course, this approach can require the incident commander to mobilize additional resources.

Emergency conditions might require the facilities staff to participate in a leadership capacity in a multi-agency emergency response. This participation might be as a subject matter expert or in a unified command where various agencies share responsibility for decision making.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides introductory training in ICS as independent study courses available over the Internet. Various agencies provide advanced ICS content in classroom settings.

National Incident Management System

NIMS extends the ICS to provide a structure that facilitates responder interactions with off-scene emergency managers, policymakers, and outside agencies up to the federal agency level. An emphasis on flexibility and standardization allows NIMS to help emergency managers achieve their coordination and response goals. A flexible structure enables emergency managers to adjust the management structure to suit the situation. When an emergency manager adds agencies to the response, standardization allows those agencies to connect quickly and efficiently.

By definition, adequately controlling operational emergencies will require only the organization’s response capacity. When the organization’s needs exceed its capacity, it has to expand its response. This is the point at which use of ICS will provide great value to responders. If an emergency is large enough to require a municipal or regional response, familiarity with NIMS will help the organization integrate into the response. Similarly, if an emergency is not affecting the organization with helpful assets, familiarity with NIMS will speed the community’s access to those response assets.

Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan


Creating and maintaining a comprehensive all-hazards plan that addresses institutional steps toward mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery will benefit an institution during any emergency, regardless of size.

The Campus Safety and Crime Reporting section of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires institutions of higher education receiving federal funding for financial aid to publish current campus policies regarding emergency response and evacuation procedures. Although the legislation does not require the creation of emergency plans per se, a campus that reports having no plans takes on a risk to its reputation.

Plan Development and Maintenance

The scope of a comprehensive emergency management plan depends wholly on assumptions. The organization must assume some level of response capacity and work toward increasing resilience. These assumptions might have a historical basis; they might derive from regional threats; or they might result from observation of events at similar institutions.

All-Hazards Approach

Emergency management planners use an “all-hazards approach” to building emergency plans. Focusing on a single type of emergency (man-made rather than natural emergencies, for instance) can leave gaps in the organization’s preparedness plan, thus compromising its effectiveness. Similarly, an organization might be sensitive to a particular threat scenario (active shooter, for example), but other threat scenarios (inclement weather, for instance) might be more likely to occur and could cause greater disruption. An emergency management plan that focuses on a single threat or type of threat often fails to protect the organization from other threats.

Comprehensive emergency management requires a wide view of the possible risks facing an organization. An organization often has sufficient expertise and experience in the existing staff to recognize prominent threats to its continued operations. Guidance from FEMA and local structures, including the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) or local Office of Emergency Management (OEM), can help the organization expand its view of potential threat scenarios. A thriving community of emergency planning consultants is available to facilitate the implementation of this approach.

Empower the Team: Charge and Support

As with any strategic initiative in a large, complex organization, comprehensive emergency management planning must have support and direction from senior leadership. The executives in the organization must indicate to the community — as well as to the groups they expect to participate in planning — the project’s goal and the level of support they are willing to pledge to its success. The planning effort must have this type of support, or it will create a list of needs with no path to improvement.

Establish the Team: Participation

Development of a comprehensive emergency management plan needs to include a wide cross-section of the organization. In the absence of an emergency manager, facilities managers can lead the process. If they do not lead, they certainly need to be a major part of the planning because almost every emergency affects or can affect campus buildings and grounds.

Other parts of the organization that need to participate in a successful comprehensive emergency management plan include the following:

  • Academic affairs
  • Student life and housing
  • Public safety and police
  • Maintenance and operations
  • Transportation
  • Food service
  • Safety and environmental management
  • Finance and accounting
  • Human resources
  • Accessibility and special needs populations
  • Insurance and risk
  • Community relations
  • Events management
  • Library, children’s centers, and other special occupancies

FEMA and other organizations have training and guidance documents available to assist in plan development and planning team success. Many of these come at no direct cost or low cost. Local emergency planning organizations (municipal OEM, LEPC, and so on) also may have access to guidance documents and training.

Purpose: Concept of Operations (CONOPS)

A comprehensive emergency management plan relies on a statement of purpose and a concept of operations (CONOPS) during emergency situations. Some emergencies create operational risk to the organization that affects how the organization achieves its goals in the short term. Other emergencies can create strategic risk that affects whether the organization can continue to operate after the emergency condition abates.

When creating a comprehensive emergency management plan, an organization must decide on the level of operations it will try to maintain during a given emergency situation. Emergency planners call this the CONOPS. For instance, an organization might determine that a minor hazardous materials release in a building will not substantially affect workflow for the rest of the facility. This determination would form the basis for a CONOPS, a plan for that type of emergency. The aspects of the operation outside the affected area will continue.

A CONOPS depends in large part on the scope and scale of the emergency. A hurricane that destroys 40 percent of the physical assets of a university presents a strategic threat, and the institution must focus its efforts on surviving the event, not on continuing to operate during the event. The planning team must include decision-making points where the organization elects to suspend nonessential operations, sending people home or retasking them to a different purpose during the emergency. The organization might need to stop hosting events for the general public during an emergency, or it might need to shut down its children’s center. The organization must plan for the suspension of these collateral activities in advance. Furthermore, the managers responsible for these activities must understand the decision-making process and must train staff to facilitate the suspension.


After the project team has reviewed possible threat scenarios and emergency conditions, it must decide where to take action. The organization can evaluate current capacity to meet the CONOPS in an emergency condition by performing a gap analysis. The team performs an environmental scan to determine its capacity to operate, as stated in the CONOPS, and identifies gaps.

As an example, an institution might have a CONOPS for sustaining full operation during an outbreak of an emerging infectious disease (such as pandemic influenza). To meet this CONOPS, the institution needs to have food and water supplies, hospital facilities, morgue facilities, and the means to enforce strict hygiene discipline. If the institution lacks any of these, it must either create those capacities or shift the CONOPS for that threat scenario to a more achievable set of goals. Following the gap analysis, the institution might decide to shift its CONOPS to the safe distribution of students away from campus and then caretaking for the campus facilities. Even this CONOPS can pose challenges for an institution with a large number of foreign students who may be unable or unwilling to leave on-campus housing.

Prioritization of preparedness activities necessarily depends on available resources, including time for training and assessment or finances for purchased items. Team members will see more success in emergency planning if they are resourceful and creative in how they plan to fill any gaps between current capability and plan objectives.

Plan Acceptance and Review

When the emergency planning team has finished developing a CONOPS, assessing threats, ranking risks, assessing gaps, and prioritizing action items, senior leadership must approve and endorse the plan. As with any plan, the real work is in its implementation.

An organization’s threat profile and capacity to respond to emergencies will develop over time. The emergency planning team has to continue to monitor progress toward achieving plan objectives and then update the plan to account for changes.

FEMA emphasizes four phases of preparedness: mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery. Prioritizing action in these phases can be difficult in an organization with resource constraints. A comprehensive emergency response planning effort will result in a clearer understanding of emergency management needs.



An organization mitigates threats when it reduces the vulnerability of the exposed assets by changing the design, whether through engineering, architecture, or redundancy. For instance, an organization can separate its data center file servers and Internet connections, removing a single point of failure and increasing resilience. Similarly, a secure facility can mitigate the risk of vehicle attack with defensive architecture — setting the buildings back from vehicle access and creating berms to deflect explosive blasts away from the building facade. Reducing fuel load and chemical reaction potential by centralizing and reducing inventory mitigates hazardous materials release threats.

A facility can mitigate threats by focusing on eliminating single points of failure, creating redundancy and excess capacity, and separating and duplicating critical assets.


Redundancy is a valuable threat mitigation strategy. Finding and eliminating single points of failure will create redundancy and reduce reliance on a particular nexus — whether that is the telephone, Internet, electricity, or fuel. Facilities managers can increase resilience by finding single points of failure in critical systems and spreading the throughput.

A good standard for facilities managers is to consider “single largest unit out of service.” This planning paradigm creates redundancy and allows a single piece of equipment to fail without compromising service delivery. Certainly, redundancy has higher implementation costs. Creating utility loops and installing sufficient capacity to suffer an outage at a single node of a distribution system will allow campus operations to absorb an outage without creating an emergency situation.


Communication is essential during emergencies. Communication media exist in great numbers at most organizations but can be vulnerable during an event. Implementing redundancy in communication networks improves system survivability and increases the chance that an all-channels message will permeate the community.

The capability to notify the entire organization of an event has become a standard method of risk mitigation. Giving the community information enables its members to make better decisions to protect themselves. Mass notification — whether by e-mail, telephone, short message service (SMS) texting, or broadcast towers — is an essential component of a threat mitigation plan.

Interoperable communication systems allow responders from various agencies to communicate directly during an emergency. Making campus communication systems interoperable with local responding agencies will reduce confusion and shorten response times. Some organizations might have difficulty gaining access to police and fire radio channels, but technology exists that allows separate radio channels to connect. This capability already might be part of municipal incident management plans.

Weather Protection

Facilities managers should consider the value added by weather protection mitigation systems. These systems include wind-resistant roofs, flood walls, water-resistant doors, shatter-resistant films for windows, and other mechanical and architectural means to mitigate weather losses. Even at a cost of millions, flood protection systems can substantially reduce, perhaps even eliminate, water-related losses.

Facilities managers can implement weather-related mitigation measures by changing design standards for new construction and renovation. This strategy spreads implementation of the weather risk mitigation over a time horizon of years but reduces long-term costs. Integration of weather-protective architecture also can improve design outcomes — the mitigation blends with the result because designers included it early.

FEMA may provide grants for some weather protection measures. These grants often take the form of matching funds, but they still reduce the cost of mitigation to the facility.

Emergency Utility Capacity

Operations at most organizations depend heavily on electricity. Fire codes require sufficient emergency power, whether by using generators or batteries, to illuminate means of egress. Some buildings have critical loads, such as ventilation systems or scientific equipment, that require constant power. Computer systems, including file servers and network routers, might need constant power to maintain function until operators can shut them down intentionally.

Facilities managers need to count or estimate total emergency power needs in buildings and elsewhere. With this information, they can determine how long the facility can remain safe to occupy and capable of supporting operations without emergency power. Any deficiencies in emergency power capacity require action to protect the assets that need power or to add power to the emergency supply.

Most facilities have sufficient thermal mass to tolerate several hours without heating or cooling. Some areas, however, such as kitchens and animal colonies, might need more urgent attention to temperature changes during an emergency. Similar to their approach to emergency power, facilities managers should prepare to protect assets in those areas more quickly than in other structures.

Remote Hosting and Data Storage

Information technology assets are critical to campus operation, and they are vulnerable to electrical outage, loss of cooling capacity, and external attack. Transaction-based information systems, such as e-learning applications and electronic registration, are particularly important to protect. Duplicating critical applications in at least one offsite location allows the organization to continue to operate, regardless of the conditions at the main data center.



Preparation for emergencies involves personal preparation, pre-incident planning, training, and exercises as well as equipping emergency response teams, stockpiling critical response supplies, and creating communication methods and messages. Investment in preparation will yield a faster, safer, and more effective emergency response. A more rapid and more effective response reduces the duration and severity of any outage caused by the emergency condition, and it also reduces recovery time.

Any operational responders required for an emergency should prepare themselves for the response. Each responder should set aside sufficient clothing, food, water, and medications for that responder for the first three days of any response action. Some agencies call these “three-day kits,” and others call them “72-hour kits,” but they serve the same purpose. Similarly, responders should ensure that their families and homes are prepared for their absence for this same duration. Ensuring that family and home are safe will allow the responder to focus solely on the response. Personal preparedness applies to anyone in the organization who might respond to a major incident, including executives, line workers, and everyone in between those levels.

Pre-incident planning allows emergency managers and responders to determine initial response actions and objectives well in advance of an event. The plans need not have deep detail because the circumstances of any given emergency can obviate pre-incident plan assumptions. Despite the fluid nature of emergency events and responses, pre-incident plans give responders access to some initial objectives and priorities.

Responders need training to perform their duties safely, especially if the response activities are collateral to primary duties. Responder training should include whatever tasks the comprehensive emergency management plan expects the responders to execute. Most facilities personnel will be responding to emergencies as a collateral duty, and their everyday job expertise will help them with the response. The urgency of action and the high consequences of failure that accompany emergency response duties require a higher degree of comfort and expertise with emergency response job functions. Standards outline the structure of some types of emergency response training, such as hazardous materials spill response training, but not the structure of others.

Part of response preparation includes training to interact with local responders. FEMA and other agencies offer training in ICS and NIMS, national standards for emergency management in the United States. Learning the language and operating standards of outside responders will facilitate the integration of organizational and external responders.

Tests are an essential part of any plan. Exercises provide opportunities to simulate emergencies in the safety of a controlled situation. Exercising the comprehensive emergency response plan will create confidence, a sense of urgency, or both. If a system being tested performs, then confidence results. If the system being tested fails, then a sense of urgency results. Whatever the outcome, exercises are an essential part of preparation.

Drills are a subset of exercises. A drill is a test of a specific emergency response function. For instance, a fire drill is really an exercise of the building alarm and evacuation plan — a relatively simple component in a comprehensive plan. A tabletop exercise is more complicated, with participants playing out their roles in a more narrative way. The most complex form of a plan exercise is a full-scale exercise, when real response assets deploy to a fictional scenario and use actual response equipment. As with any practice, repetition builds memory. Organizations seeking to be well prepared for emergencies should consider running three or four exercises a year.

Response teams need equipment to perform their tasks. Securing that equipment and ensuring its operability are essential preparation tasks. A hazardous materials response team will need personal protective equipment, testing and sensing equipment, the capability to decontaminate team members and patients, and incident management tools. A rescue team will need ropes, harnesses, and rescue litters. All of this equipment must be in place before the emergency to maintain maximum effectiveness in executing plan objectives.

Some emergency situations require stockpiling of critical supplies that might be unavailable during the emergency. The commercial equipment and supply market can provide resources to support most small-scale incidents and to reequip a team following a response. When conditions will create scarcity in the market, organizations expecting to respond to an emergency need to ensure that they have access to the necessary equipment. For a pandemic influenza response, for instance, this approach can mean purchasing antiviral drugs, examination gloves, and respirators in advance to ensure that they are available in adequate quantities during the emergency. Just as every responder should have a three-day kit of food and supplies, so should every business — especially those with a residential component. When food supplies fail, the organization should have sufficient reserves to weather the outage.

Stockpiling uses resources. First, the organization must purchase the equipment it intends to stockpile. The organization must inventory the equipment periodically to ensure that it remains serviceable. The organization must invest in temperature and humidity control to maximize shelf life. At the end of useful life, the organization must replace the stockpile. Because of the inherent cost of stockpiling, the organization must carefully evaluate stockpiles and compare them with the relevant CONOPS. Emergency managers should recognize that stockpiles that do not create necessary response capacity are wasting resources.

Organizations expecting costly losses to property should set aside funds to pay for insurance deductibles and business continuity expenses. Generally speaking, the faster an organization returns to operation, the lower the strategic threat posed by the emergency. Organizations that intend to fund recovery efforts must set aside the funds before the loss, or they will have to make difficult decisions about where to get those resources.

Finally, organizations preparing for emergencies should create standard messages or message templates that they can quickly adapt to the actual emergency and then release information to press, parents, students, staff, families, and other stakeholders. Communication preparation includes the message content and the means to deliver it. The means of delivering the message should be resilient and reliable.



All emergencies are local. The organization with the emergency condition needs to initiate the response actions. In some situations, this might be as simple as calling the local fire department; for example, in the case of a simple structural fire. In other cases, such as a building-wide electrical failure, the response action might require a heavy reliance on internal responders and contractors.

Incident Command System

Use of the ICS will greatly improve internal response. The ICS is scalable and flexible, and it integrates with exterior responders. Training, supplemented with drills and exercises, will increase responder confidence in ICS use. The ICS relies on a well-trained and experienced incident commander, who elects where and how to secure the emergency scene and stage the response.

During the response, the incident commander is completely responsible for observers, patients, responders, and assets. To fulfill this responsibility, the incident commander must develop, approve, implement, and adjust an incident management plan. That plan must account for responder safety, care for injured patients, safety of observers and the public, and protection of property. The incident management plan includes management of the press. Modern technology enables nearly instant recording of events and posting to the Internet, which makes anyone a reporter. Thus, controlling the message to the media requires controlling any kind of access to an incident scene. Incident commanders need to consider this issue when setting up isolation areas.

Incident commanders can resolve many emergencies from the incident scene. Sometimes, emergencies pose a sustained or strategic threat to the institution and might require coordination of additional response assets. In these cases, organizations committed to a comprehensive emergency response will activate an emergency operations center (EOC).

Emergency Operations Center

Typically, the EOC is an indoor facility located away from the incident. The center relies heavily on communication technology and has multiple telephone, computer, and mass media connections. The EOC often contains substantial facilities information, such as floor plans and utility shutoff locations. It often has emergency power sufficient to allow sustained operations in a total utility outage. Many EOCs have hygiene and eating facilities (or quick access to such facilities).

The emergency manager will summon various emergency support functions to the EOC, depending on the nature, scope, and scale of the emergency. Under the NIMS structure, common emergency services functions (ESFs) should be present in an EOC if their services are necessary. Although NIMS envisions a larger-scale response than a single organization would undertake, the structure has value to a single organization for response coordination.

A quick look at the list of ESFs in Table 1 shows the critical role that the facilities manager plays in an emergency response. Many organizations assign key ESFs to facilities managers. Some of these functions include ESF 1 (transportation), ESF 3 (public works), ESF 7 (logistics), and ESF 12 (energy).

Table 1. Standard Emergency Services Functions

Emergency Services Function Number Purpose
1 Transportation
2 Communications
3 Public works and engineering
4 Firefighting
5 Emergency management
6 Mass care, emergency assistance, housing, and human services
7 Logistics management and resource support
8 Public health and medical services
9 Search and rescue
10 Oil and hazardous materials response
11 Agriculture and natural resources
12 Energy
13 Public safety and security
14 Long-term community recovery
15 External affairs

To mitigate the threat of a single point of failure, many organizations create a backup EOC in a location remote from the main EOC facility. Depending on the CONOPS in the comprehensive emergency management plan, the backup EOC facility might need redundant power and other utility infrastructure, wholly equivalent to that in the primary EOC.

Liaison with External Resources

An organization will rely on internal and external resources to respond to emergencies. When an emergency exceeds internal capacity to respond, the organization must reach out for help from nearby external agencies. Many of these agencies exist solely or in large part to provide just such a response. Even so, the organization that implements a comprehensive emergency management plan must understand the capabilities and expectations of the external agencies. Furthermore, the organization must tailor its own response capacity to match and complement the external capacity.

Most municipalities have basic public safety services available, including police, fire, and emergency medical services. Understanding the capabilities and rules of engagement of these agencies will facilitate a response. A volunteer fire department, for instance, can be reluctant to enter a science facility because of the chemical inventory. Emergency planners must know the posture that local responders will take and adjust accordingly.

When calling on external resources, the current incident commander must choose to transfer command to the incoming external resource or to operate in a unified command structure. Most municipal emergency response agencies expect to operate in a unified command with a competent incident commander from the organization. Lacking that structure, the external agency often will assume command. Emergency managers should expect unified command only when incident commanders are well-trained, experienced, and respected by the external commander. Even if external agencies take control of an emergency scene, however, they still will need information about the site from facilities managers and facilities liaisons.

An organization will rely heavily on local emergency medical services and hospitals during casualty emergencies. Just as with police and fire services, responses by these medical facilities during emergencies might not match assumptions. Delivery of a contaminated patient, for instance, while certainly an emergent condition, can compromise emergency room operations to the point that the hospital delays treatment.

Decision to Close

Incident commanders for operational responses must exercise authority to deny entry to areas affected by an emergency situation. This type of action differs substantially from the decision to close. Closure means the cessation of all business activities except those that are particularly necessary to protect and support any people left on the facility and to maintain buildings and utilities.

Normally, the decision to close an institution or activate a mass evacuation plan falls on senior executives. Closure is an acknowledgment of a strategic risk to the institution — staying open would put the organization’s business and people in jeopardy. However, closure is also a strategic risk in its own right — shutting down a major operation can result in long-term damage to the organization’s capability to meet its goals.

Volunteers and Donations

Some organizations can expect an outpouring of community support during a major emergency. Local alumni and business partners might well create a flow of volunteers and donated goods that can help or hinder response operations. Use of the ICS and an EOC will facilitate the addition of these resources to the response.

If the municipality has its own EOC, people there can help coordinate a response and responding agencies. If an emergency does not directly affect an organization, but the local EOC is open, the organization can help with the response by being available to the EOC and providing whatever volunteers and donations it has available.



The recovery phase of emergency management begins during the response phase. A vital EOC function is ESF 14 for long-term community recovery. Throughout the response phase, ESF 14 managers will be working on plans to bring the affected resources back into service. As the emergency scene begins to shrink, response teams put portions of the affected area back into service.

The comprehensive emergency management plan should include a plan for business continuity or continuity of operations (COOP). The COOP plan usually includes provision of services through alternate means, such as conducting final exams online instead of in class. COOP plans allow the work of the affected organization to continue in some way while the organization recovers.

In the days and weeks following the emergency, the organization and its insurance providers must review losses and estimate costs to restore facilities to full function. The facilities manager naturally will have a prominent role in restoration of facilities and utilities to normal operation. Recovery must emphasize quick return to full function. This emphasis usually means incurring high costs for restoration. However, these are investments well made because the longer an organization is out of normal operating mode, the greater the likelihood that an emergency will pose a strategic threat.

In some cases, federal agencies such as FEMA offer restoration or mitigation grants that will help with rebuilding. These grants often are matching grants, and some have substantial insurance obligations.



Organizations cannot expect immunity from emergencies. Organizations that desire an effective response and quick recovery will create a comprehensive emergency management plan. The plan should address all phases of emergency management, including mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery. It will be broad-based in development and scope and will address all the hazards that face the organization.

Because emergencies can happen at any time, initial efforts in comprehensive preparedness must emphasize response capacity. Increasing preparation capacity before the emergency certainly will help with response and recovery. Most mitigation efforts take time and resources to accomplish. This realization does not diminish their importance, but if forced to choose, the facilities manager should emphasize response, preparation, and recovery in the near term.

Emergency management plans should emphasize integrating with local external agencies and seeking to operate with those agencies cooperatively. Internal responders need training, equipment, planning, and exercises to create necessary confidence in the response plan. Joint exercises involving the organization’s responders and their municipal counterparts will foster confidence and trust.

When emergencies develop beyond operational disruption and actually create strategic threats, an organization might elect to activate its EOC. The EOC allows the emergency manager to take a longer-term view of the situation and to work with the necessary organizational assets to progress toward restoration of full function.

Appendix A: Resources and References


Federal Emergency Management Agency. Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness

Federal Emergency Management Agency. Emergency Management Guide for Business and Industry.

Federal Emergency Management Agency. “FEMA Independent Study Courses.”

Federal Emergency Management Agency. Standard Checklist Criteria for Business Recovery

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Pandemic Influenza Planning and Preparedness.”

Van Sant, Kate, and Patricia Stewart. “Pandemic Preparation: Hoping for the Best, Preparing for the Worst.” Facilities Manager, November/December 2007.

Appendix B: Sample Outline of Emergency Management Plan


Table of Contents

Distribution List

Basic Plan

Situation and Assumptions
Organization and Assignment of Responsibilities
Concept of Operations
Authorities and References

Functional Annexes
Annex A: Direction and Control

Appendix 1: Emergency Services Organization Chart
Appendix 2: Matrix of Responsibilities Chart
Appendix 3: Emergency Services Organization Telephone Listing
Appendix 4: Succession of Authority
Appendix 5: Local Situation Report
Appendix 6: EOC Layout Chart
Appendix 7: EOC Procedures
Appendix 8: EOC Staffing
Appendix 9: EOC Message Form
Appendix 10: EOC Log Form
Appendix 11: EOC Message Flow

Annex B: Communications
Annex C: Emergency Public Information
Annex D: Law Enforcement
Annex E: Facilities Management

Appendix 1: Facilities Management Responsibilities
Appendix 2: Facilities Management Organization
Appendix 3: Facilities Management Personnel Resources
Appendix 4: Facilities Management Equipment Resources
Appendix 5: Buildings with Emergency Power
Appendix 6: Facilities Management Vehicle Resources
Appendix 7: Facilities Management Recall Procedures
Appendix 8: Transportation Resources

Annex F: Medical and Health Services
Annex G: Fire Services
Annex H: Emergency Medical Services
Annex I: Evacuation

Appendix 1: Shelters
Appendix 2: Primary EOC and Shelter Location Map
Appendix 3: Secondary EOC
Appendix 4: Facilities and Transportation for Persons with Special Needs

Annex J: Special Facilities
Annex K: Auxiliary Workforce

Appendix 1: Registration Form for Volunteers
Appendix 2: Resource Distribution Centers
Appendix 3: Donations Management

Annex L: Damage Assessment

Appendix 1: Damage Assessment Teams
Appendix 2: Initial Damage Assessment

Annex M: Federal Disaster Assistance

Appendix 1: Federal Response Plan Emergency Support Functions
Appendix 2: Map of Potential Federal Response Field Facilities
Appendix 3: Potential Federal Response Disaster Field Facilities

Annex N: Hazard Mitigation
Hazard-Specific Annexes
Annex O: Flooding
Annex P: Hazardous Materials Incidents
Annex Q: Dam Safety
Annex R: Resource Shortages
Annex S: Airport Emergency
Annex T: Water Contamination

Leave a Reply