If you’re a small-town emergency manager, you have quite a challenge managing a major incident. When the report of a disaster arrives, you have essential services to start up, often with minimally trained staff.
So, where do you start?
How do you manage it all? And what are the most important questions to ask?
With an eye to managing the long-term picture, there are six things you should do right away when it comes to incident response:
1. How will you send out notifications?
Everyone who has even remote need-to-know should be notified immediately. To that end, is your notification list up to date? Do you have a method in place to notify key players such as the mayor and council members? When was the last time you tested this method? How well did it work?
2. How will you log activities?
The incident management log is a legal document where you write down all the activities directed by the emergency manager or the shift supervisor. These logs are also important for continuity between working shifts. At shift changeover, review the major activities of the day with the oncoming shift in order to bring them up to speed.
Your log should be a controlled document that is maintained by one person at a time. Maintaining the log on a computer makes copying and transferring easier, and log files can be easily stored for later reference.
3. How will you maintain situational awareness?
Situational awareness is a mixture of reports, mapping and boots-on-the-ground observations. Do you have a tool that you can use to map activities and affected geo-spatial regions? Showing affected regions and activities on the map shows decision-makers where resources are assigned and what is going on in the community.
4. How will you manage task assignments?
Depending on the scale of the disaster, you are going to grow two to five times your original number—overnight!
You’ll have many resources to manage. Do you have an adequate task management system, where you can list the task, where it is located, and who is assigned to it? Does your task management system tell you when the task is due, or how complete it is?
5. How will you manage logistics?
Sometimes smaller government procurement isn’t set up to do emergency purchases of goods necessary to support a disaster.
Often, states will give funding for disasters and follow an abridged process for purchasing needed supplies. However, the supplies and equipment still must be approved, received, tracked and demobilized.
6. Do you have a system in place to track your expenditures?
How will you know that equipment and supplies have made it to their intended recipient? When you demobilize, how will you account for purchased equipment and left-over supplies?
These are fundamental but critical questions when managing an emergency. But more importantly, how do you setup a collaborative, flexible, and easy-to-use system to help you effectively to manage the emergency in one place?
A platform that frees you up to actually deal with an emergency?
SharePoint may be your answer.
You may not need to spend big dollars on an expensive emergency management computer system. In fact, you may be able to leverage the power of your current SharePoint platform.
SharePoint was developed by Microsoft to be a collaborative work environment. Over the years it has grown in depth and power and is now a very capable and easily configurable business management system. Through an aggressive marketing program, most government agencies have a SharePoint system that they can use.
So, when it comes to managing the emergency, ask yourself these important questions:
- How will you send out notifications?
- How will you log activities?
- How will you maintain situational awareness?
- How will you manage task assignments?
- How will you manage logistics?
- Do you have a system in place to track your expenditures?
Remember, the most effective platform to deal with these options should not be cumbersome, difficult to learn, or expensive. You will likely staff your EOC with people from all areas of government organization, many without emergency management experience. Considering the questions above, remember that your system choice will be supporting people and should be easy for them learn and use.
If you’re an emergency manager and are looking for inexpensive, easy-to-learn incident management software, take a look at EMIT one-stop incident tracking software.
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