Disasters

Dating back as early as the 1900’s era humanity has been unfortunate to have experienced the aftermath of natural disasters.  However, natural disasters have forced society to adopt and create ways to anticipate and account for events as such.   As disasters have occurred innovations were constantly being developed and implemented to accommodate the populace during both pre and post disasters.  These same creative innovations would later be known and referred to and as Emergency Planning.  The purpose of emergency planning is to serve as a continuous working plan relevant to potential threats or hazards that may impact the nation. In a nutshell an emergency plan specifies the standard procedures that should be carried out in a given situation not to say that this plan will be the end all be all play book as each situations and hazard varies, which entails different requirements.  In theory, the planners desired end state is to prevent personal injury, loss of life, property damage, and lessen the confusion amongst the populace regarding the appropriate actions to be taken in the case of a disaster.The purpose of this document is to allow the author to develop a comprehensive emergency plan in preparation for a tornado, flooding, or storms at Ashford University’s main campus located in Clinton Iowa. This plan was developed and drafted in an effort to prepare the campus for such an event while illustrating what responses should be taken in the case such an event were to occur. During the development of this document the author will expand on various topics relevant to the emergency evacuation process to include: Identifying the Authority for the emergency plan, identifying the purpose of the plan, the procedures for activation and termination of the emergency plan. In addition, the author will assess the likelihood of the plan being initiated; determine what resources are available to be included in the plan, the concept of operations and a list of other items that will be addressed within the body of the document itself. Upon conclusion of this document the reader will have a full understanding on the process and execution of an emergency plan initiated at Ashford University Clinton Iowa, the substance in which comprises an emergency plan, and a comprehensive understanding on the challenges of creating an emergency plan.Based on extensive research it appears that the majority of natural disasters that have occurred in the state of Iowa have all consisted of severe storms, flooding, and tornadoes. Dating back to May of 1990 Iowa has experienced 26 Presidential Declared Disasters, 5 of which required the Presidential Disaster Declaration.  In addition, Iowa leads the nation in hazards associated with severe weather to include heavy rains and flooding. Furthermore, Clinton Iowa is susceptible to flooding given its geographical location and proximity to the Mississippi river. Given the supporting facts regarding the previous hazards it allows the author to expand in detail the mission of the emergency plan. The Mission of the Emergency Plan is to provide the students and factuality members aboard Ashford University’s main campus with clear guidance on how to react in the event of an impending tornado. In doing so this plan is intended to prevent the loss of life, human suffering, and property damage.  The emergency plan encompasses operating procedures, historical data from the Incident Command System (ICS), the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), National Incident Management System (NIMS), and the Master Mutual Aid Agreement (MMAA) for management of emergencies which could disrupt normal campus operations such as, but not limited to: fires, floods, storms, earthquakes, hazardous materials incidents, terrorist threats and other potential disasters.These potential emergencies have been identified through a risk assessment process and the development of an All Hazard Mitigation Plan In addition, this plan is to educate and inform the citizens aboard Ashford’s campus about the ongoing measures to be taken in preparation for such an event.  The approving authority for the emergency plan is has multiple chains within the plan itself such as the manger, the police department, and the county plays a role within this plan as well. The Emergency Preparedness departments will develop, revise, and review the EOP. Once it is completed the manger gives their concurrence in which the plan is the submitted to the chief of police for the respected area for administration approval and signatory. The specific scope for the emergency plan is as follows: Ensure the safety of the students and staff members as previously mentioned, identify a location to conduct accountability, identify as secondary location if the previous location deemed unsuitable for occupation, identify required emergency services as well as available emergency services, identify supplies required to sustain during the occurrence of the hazard, identify a communication plan with higher entities, establish a retrograde plan for post hazard assessment, project and assess potential hazard. All of the aforementioned requirements need to be are relevant to the overall success of the plan, some of which need to be completed prior to the occurrence of the event itself.Thinking from the perspective of the planner, training is a must and all students have at least undergone some sort of response training rather if it’s during orientation or an annual training requirement. As the threat time line nears the planner has set a few plans in motion in preparation to the arrival of this anticipated hazard. That being said a staff meeting will be held amongst all the staff principles involved in the emergency planning process. During this meeting the planners shall seek alternatives to be taken based on the anticipation of the tornado it’s self such as emplace shelter, or if the premises should be evacuated. In addition to the proposed strategy all entities will be tasked with implementing certain phases of the emergency plan. Upon reaching a general consensus and consulting with higher entity planners, the meeting will conclude and all students and staff members will be instructed to assemble in the campus auditorium to receive guidance as the school prepares the populace for the tornado. During this campus wide brief the student will be further enlightened on the current situation and how it pertains to them. Furthermore, the students will be given alternatives such as evacuate and seek shelter elsewhere dependent on the magnitude of the tornado; this decision is based solely on the amount of time remaining before the tornado hits land. Given the anticipated timelines there will be a three tier system used for preparedness both pre and post disaster.The first tier will be Priority I: Protection of life 72 hours prior to the occurrence of the hazard, Priority II: Maintenance of Life support and assessment of damages 24 hours post hazard, and lastly Priority III: Restoration of Campus Daily Operations 96 post hazard. When the hazard occurs, this plan is invoked for the emergency and a multiple-tier graded approach is utilized for response. Based on the prescribed time line the Police Department will be notified so that they can assume Incident Control to respond to any potential emergencies such as fire or medical assistance. In conjunction with this approach the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) or Department Operation Centers (DOC) s will be activated to support the ongoing response to promote integration for a multi-organizational response, if required. In lieu of the warning process there will also be a three phased alert level. Level 1 (“Standby/Alert”): The emergency involves incidents that can be managed using normal response operations. The EOC is not activated, but appropriate EOC personnel are informed and placed on alert status. DOC’s may be activated during Level 1 situations, if deemed appropriate by supervisory personnel. Level 2 (“Partial Activation”): The emergency can no longer be managed using normal procedures.The EOC is partially activated, i.e. some, but not all positions are filled, to coordinate and support the response to the incident. One or more DOCs may be activated, depending upon the nature of the incident. EOC staffing decisions are made by the person fulfilling the role of EOC Director, and dependent on the circumstances surrounding the event.  Level 3 (“Full Activation”): A major emergency, such as tornado. The EOC is activated in either its primary or secondary location. All or most EOC positions and DOCs are activated. All emergency personnel will report for duty. A campus proclamation of emergency is declared during a Level 3 emergency. Prior to the activation phase all points of contacts will be established and communication checks will be conducted with all students and staff members, in addition to communication checks with higher entities. For those individuals who desire to evacuate the premises they will be given a grace period of 48 hours to do so, an official address will be recorded with a point of contact number that the individual can be reached at preferably a land line if at all possible. As the hazard nears the crisis communication will be employed, it will address media relations and communication issues, procedures for the rapid identification of potentially harmful situations and the methods for responding to these situations quickly and effectively.The plan may be used in conjunction with the normal decision making hierarchy of the university or during a state of campus emergency, when the campus Emergency Operations Plan is activated. Given the facts that have already been ascertained about the actual hazard itself the decision has to be made on the appropriate protection action that should be taken. If the tornado is expected to be small in nature then in place protection should be suitable to accommodate the staff and students. However on the contrary, sheltering may be ordered if the hazard is fairly significant and evacuation is not feasible due to traffic conditions, damage to roadways, or the probability that the evacuation could not be completed prior to the arrival of a plume that would expose evacuating personnel. EMA Coordinators will be advised of a sheltering order via notification by the emergency public address system, radio or by local law officials. Personnel will be told to remain indoors. The EOC will coordinate sheltering within the buildings. Building ventilation systems will be shut down where possible to avoid any seepage of possible hazard materials into the building. If the hazard requires a campus wide evacuation the decision will be made by law officials or public safety responders.In order for this plan to successfully accomplish and execute this plan communication will be the key factor of it all. As previously state in the aforementioned text the crisis Communication Plan provides the framework for the delivery of public information to the campus community during an emergency or natural disaster. This plan is a compilation of duties, assignments, instructions and delegations of authority for the use of various communications tools available on the campus. The Crisis Communication Plan will provide the coordination of communication within the university, and between the university, the media and the public in the event of an emergency or controversial issue.Controversial issues may include police investigations, protests, or other situations that demand a public response. The plan is not intended to change the way emergencies are initially reported. All emergencies on campus should be reported immediately to University Police via 911 or whatever number you may have received during training venues. The crisis communication plan addresses media relations and communication issues, procedures for the rapid identification of potentially harmful situations and the methods for responding to these situations quickly and effectively. The plan may be used in conjunction with the normal decision making hierarchy of the university or during a state of campus emergency, when the campus Emergency Operations Plan is activated.Now that the evacuation plan has been established and communication checks have been completed from the top down and vice versa the campus will now be in level 3 “full activation” of until the tornado has passed. Dependent on if the campus is impacted by the anticipated tornado one of two things needs to happen post event, the campus goes into tier II Maintenance of Life support and assessment of damages 24 hours post hazard or the plan needs to be terminated. To terminate the plan the EOC Director, will determine when to terminate the emergency, deactivate the EOC and transition to normal campus governance and operations. The termination of an emergency event at will require the agreement of the ED, IC, and the Chair of the Policy Group, with technical input from the EOC Emergency Management Team. Specific criteria have been developed to ensure this process is conducted in a safe and efficient manner. Specific building/facility plans may specify additional requirements for this process related to current operations, activities and hazards.Recovery is the time period beginning just prior to termination of the emergency until the building/facility or campus is returned to normal campus governance and operational status. Termination of the emergency initiates transitioning from the emergency phase into the recovery phase “Tier III”. Once the decision is made to enter the recovery phase, personnel involved in the response will be informed of this transition. The ED in consultation with the Policy Group will assign an individual to serve as Recovery Manager with full authority to direct the recovery effort. Once the emergency has been terminated the responsibility for recovery and cleanup transitions from will be conveyed from the ED to the Recovery Manager and Recovery Organization.The Recovery Organization will initially utilize the EOC as the primary planning and coordinating center for the recovery efforts. The likelihood of this plan being implemented is dependent on the magnitude of the tornado, and the plan may have changed from the time it was developed as it is constantly updated with new recommendations that will accommodate the safety of the local populace. Various things can change to include the assets that you have available dependent on the level that you have been declared for assistance, such as level 1 or level 3. All of these factors are relevant to the overall success of the plan so it is imperative that all of these aforementioned sequential processes are anticipated and accounted for based on least to worst case scenario.In conclusion, the author has expanded on various topics regarding emergency planning specifically a tornado impacting Ashford University. Enclosed were several protective measures that should be taken in an effort to prevent lost of life, property damage, and most importantly to reduce confusion amongst the staff on what actions they should take in the event of a disaster. Several of these process or transparent to the populace so they are unaware of the work that goes into the development of these plans, a well thought out concise emergency plan is valuable at all levels to accomplish the overall mission at hand. When disaster strikes, it has no emotions or remorse for the aftermath left from its wrath, it is up to you as the planner to make sound decisions to counter as much suffering as possible.