Every municipality needs an Emergency Management Program.
There are a number of components that make up a comprehensive emergency management program, (i.e. Emergency Response Plan, Business Continuity Plan, Communications Plan, Employee & Family Support Plan, Pandemic Plan, etc.).
When I was with the Office of the Fire Marshal I was responsible for emergency management and the development of these plans for the OFM. And now in these times of global uncertainty, I am once again reminded of just how important it is for organizations to have them – and particularly a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place.
What is a BCP?
A BCP is a plan that outlines the critical services to be delivered during a disruptive event and how full operations are going to be resumed after the event.
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is, your BCP needs to address planning/mitigation, response, recovery and restoration.
Generally, a Business Continuity Plan outlines:
Who is responsible for recovery actions
What is needed to deliver, resume, continue, or restore the municipality’s services
Where to go to resume operations if necessary, and,
How the municipality’s critical services and operations will continue to be provided during a disruptive event (detailed procedures for provision, recovery, resumption and restoration of services)
Basic Elements of a BCP
It is important to remember that while the unique characteristics of your municipality must be reflected in the plan, the basic elements detailed below represent the foundation on which every BCP should be built.
Gather the necessary Baseline Information – This is used to identify municipal services, where the service is located, who uses the service, dependencies, alternate service delivery, critical infrastructure, etc.
Conduct a Business Services Risk Assessment – Needed to help identify areas of potential vulnerabilities and to examine current and necessary control measures to mitigate threats.
Undertake a Business Impact Analysis – Gathers information concerning the exposure and impact on the service should the service experience significant disruptions and assesses the potential financial and non-financial impacts of a disruptive event.
Develop a Business Continuity Recovery Strategy – Assesses the advantages and disadvantages, estimated associated costs and determines the recommended strategy for each critical service and the resources that may be necessary for quick recovery.
Identify Emergency Response and Operational Protocols & Procedures – This is a checklist of protocols and procedures that help to simplify the necessary activities even further (i.e. notification protocols, call trees, etc.).
Create the Business Continuity Plan
Of course, once it’s completed don’t let your BCP collect dust. Keep it dynamic by updating it to reflect any changes to personnel or processes, and practice it with your team so when a disruptive event occurs, like we’re experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic, your organization will be ready and well prepared to resume operations.
If you’d like to receive a free Business Continuity Plan template to help you get started or information on any of the other emergency management plans mentioned, please feel free to contact me. Susan Shannon at s[email protected]