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3.4: LEMC Activities

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    The previous section has described the factors that influence emergency planning effectiveness and later chapters will provide recommendations for the content of Emergency Operations Plans, Recovery Operations Plans, and Hazard Mitigation Plans as described by sources such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (1996b), Foster (1980), Daines (1991), Lindell and Perry (1992), and Schwab, et al. (1998). However, there is an important intermediate step that needs to be addresses—the process of plan development as it has been recommended by Daines (1991), Federal Emergency Management Agency (1996b), and Schwab, et al. (1998).

    The development of an emergency plan is a multistage process that encompasses nine steps. First, the local emergency manager establishes a preliminary planning schedule. Second, the CAO publishes a planning directive. Third, the local emergency manager facilitates the organization of the LEMC. Fourth, the local emergency manager works with LEMC members to assess disaster demands and capabilities. This leads to a designation of the organizations responsible for each component of the Emergency Operations Plan, Recovery Operations Plan, and Hazard Mitigation Plan and finalization of the schedule for plan completion. Fifth, LEMC members write the components of these plans. Sixth, LEMC members evaluate and revise the draft plans. Seventh, the local emergency manager distributes the draft plans to collaborating organizations and other jurisdictions for community review. Last, after the collaborating organizations and other jurisdictions have commented on the draft plans, the LEMC revises them and publishes them in final form. Each of these steps is addressed in more detail below.

    Establish a Preliminary Planning Schedule

    Table 3-3 shows an example of how the emergency manager should identify the principal tasks to be performed and the expected amount of time required to perform them. An experienced emergency manager will be able to generate accurate time estimates, but the LEMC members will need to review and approve them at a later date to confirm that the deadline for publication of the final plans is feasible.

    Table 3-3. Sample Preliminary Planning Schedule

    Time (months) 0 2 4 6 8 10 12

    Organize the LEMC [--]
    Assign responsibility for plan components [-----]
    Assess response requirements and capabilities [-----]
    Finalize planning schedule [--]
    Write plan components [-----------------------]
    Evaluate/revise the draft plan [---------]
    Obtain community review [--------]
    Revise/publish the final plan [----------]

    Disseminate a Planning Directive

    Local emergency managers coordinate rather than direct the efforts of other agencies, so they need some power base other than rewards and punishments to elicit cooperation. As noted in Chapter 2, French and Raven (1958; Raven, 1965) contend there are four bases of power in addition to reward and coercive power that can be used in organizations. These other bases of power are information, expert, referent, and legitimate power. Quite obviously, reward and coercive power refer to the ability to provide incentives for compliance and punishments for lack of compliance. Information power refers to specialized knowledge of the state of the social or physical environment, whereas expert power refers to specialized knowledge about the dynamics of the social or physical environment (and, thus an ability to predict—and perhaps control—elements of those environments). Referent power refers to influence that is determined by another’s liking or admiration for an individual and legitimate power is conferred when people believe that an individual has the right to expect compliance with his or her requests.

    Publication of a planning directive signed by the CAO confers legitimate power upon a local emergency manager by indicating that specific areas of authority have been delegated. This planning directive should be a written document that formalizes the CAO’s specific expectations about the emergency planning process. Thus, the planning directive should contain three sections, the first of which should state the purpose of the planning process, the legal authority under which it is being conducted, and the specific objectives that the planning process is expected to achieve. Second, the planning directive should describe the concept of the planning process, including a general description of the LEMC organization, the organizations that are expected to participate in plan development, and the local emergency manager’s authority as the CAO’s representative in this area. Last, the planning directive should address the procedure for plan approval and the anticipated deadline for publication of the final plan. Even though the planning directive is signed by the CAO, it is often drafted by the emergency manager.

    Organize the LEMC

    The emergency manager should request a representative from each of the governmental agencies, NGOs, and private sector organizations that have been designated in the planning directive as having significant emergency response capabilities or hazard vulnerabilities. The enumeration of all relevant organizations in the planning directive is especially important because public safety agencies such as police and fire are likely to participate in any event, but other local organizations are likely to participate only if directed by the CAO (Kartez & Lindell, 1990). A typical list of such organizations can be found in Table 3-4.

    Table 3-4. Organizations Typically Participating in LEMCs.

    Fire Local utilities (gas, electric power, telephone)
    Police Red Cross
    Emergency medical services Hospitals
    Public works Nursing homes
    Land use planning Schools
    Building construction News media
    Chief Administrative Officer’s office Environmental groups
    Public health Local industry
    Local elected officials Labor unions

    Members of these organizations should work part-time (a few hours a month) for the LEMC while continuing their jobs in their normal organizations. Once the LEMC has been established, the emergency manager should work with the members to select officers such as a Chair, Vice-Chair, Information Coordinator, and subcommittee chairs. As with other organizations, the Chair presides over meetings and represents the organization to senior elected and appointed government officials, the heads of private sector organizations within the jurisdiction, the news media, and the public. In addition, the LEMC Chair represents the LEMC to other jurisdictions and to state and federal agencies. The Vice-Chair performs these duties when the Chair is absent, but the Vice-Chair’s primary role is to take a more active role in the management of the internal affairs of the LEMC. The Secretary serves in a role that is not a clerical position but is instead responsible for ensuring meetings are scheduled and written minutes of the meeting are recorded. In addition, the Secretary is the principal point of contact for information about hazards and vulnerability, the planning process, and planning products. The Information Coordinator might even be the person who is responsible for monitoring the LEMC’s budget.

    LEMCs tend to be more effective when members are assigned to specific activities rather than having everyone contribute to all tasks. Thus all LEMCs should have subcommittees, but each one should determine for itself what is the most appropriate division of labor for its own situation. Most communities are likely to find it useful to have a Hazard/Vulnerability Analysis committee; a Planning, Training, and Exercising committee; a Recovery and Mitigation committee; a Public Education and Outreach committee; and an Executive committee.

    The Hazard/Vulnerability Analysis committee is responsible for identifying the hazards to which the community is exposed and the vulnerability of residential, commercial, and industrial structures and infrastructure (fuel, electric power, water, sewer, telecommunications, and transportation) to these hazards. In addition, the Hazard/Vulnerability Analysis committee should also identify any secondary hazards that could be caused by a primary disaster impact. These secondary hazards would include, for example, earthquake-initiated hazardous materials releases from chemical facilities and earthquake-initiated dam failures that cause flooding in low-lying areas. The Hazard/Vulnerability Analysis committee also should identify the locations of facilities such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and jails whose populations are vulnerable because of the limited mobility of their resident populations, as well as the locations of other facilities with vulnerable non-resident populations. A sample of such facilities is listed in Table 6-1.

    The initial task of the Planning, Training, and Exercising committee is to write the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). This committee should also coordinate the identification of facilities and equipment that are needed for disaster response. A major focus here will be on a jurisdictional emergency operations center (EOC). In addition, the Planning, Training, and Exercising committee should develop a training program to enhance emergency responders’ capabilities. The Planning, Training, and Exercising committee only needs to develop training materials for disaster-related tasks that are not performed during normal operations or routine emergencies (both of which are addressed in departmental training). That is, they must develop training that provides an overview of disaster response and also enhances skills required for tasks that are infrequently performed, difficult, and critical to the success of the emergency response organization. They can either develop the necessary training materials for themselves or obtain them from other sources. Finally, the Planning, Training, and Exercising committee must test the implementability of the plan through drills and exercises. To accomplish these tasks, the Planning, Training, and Exercising committee should recruit representatives from the primary emergency response and public health agencies.

    The Recovery and Mitigation committee has the responsibility for developing a preimpact recovery plan that will facilitate a rapid restoration of the community to normal functioning after disaster. Recovery planning is often erroneously thought of as an activity that can be postponed until after a disaster strikes, but practitioners have argued that there are many recovery tasks that can (and should) be addressed during preimpact planning (Schwab, et al., 1998) and this contention has been supported by recent research (Wu & Lindell, 2004). In addition, the Recovery and Mitigation committee is responsible for identifying mitigation projects that will reduce the community’s vulnerability to environmental hazards. Some mitigation projects can probably be implemented before a disaster occurs, but others will need to be planned for implementation in conjunction with disaster recovery. To accomplish these functions, the Recovery and Mitigation committee should have representatives from public works, community development, land use planning, and building construction agencies.

    The Public Education and Outreach committee is responsible for risk communication with the news media and the public. Thus, its members should summarize the findings of the Hazard/Vulnerability Analysis committee that identify the community’s principal hazards and its most vulnerable locations and demographic groups. The Public Education and Outreach committee should also develop a description of the activities of the Planning, Training and Exercising committee and an explanation of how these will provide a capability for prompt and effective emergency response to the community’s hazards. Finally, the Public Education and Outreach committee should describe the activities of the Recovery and Mitigation Committee and an explanation of how these will provide a capability for prompt and effective emergency recovery from a disaster. Public Education and Outreach committee members should use this information about the community’s hazards and the hazard adjustments (preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation) that will protect the community to construct nontechnical summaries that can be understood by households and businesses throughout the community. The Public Education and Outreach committee should develop slides or other graphic presentations to support talks to community groups, as well as brochures to be distributed to households and businesses.

    The Executive committee is responsible for ensuring the LEMC sets specific, achievable objectives each year and accomplishes those objectives through an efficient expenditure of resources. Accordingly, the Executive committee will consist of the LEMC’s principal officers—Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and subcommittee chairs. In addition to planning, organizing, directing, and monitoring the internal activities of the LEMC, the Executive committee needs to obtain the resources—especially the funds—to support the LEMC’s activities. Although most of the work of the LEMC is performed by personnel who are already being paid through their primary work organizations, there often are additional expenses for acquiring computer hardware and software, training materials, and travel for outside training. In addition, there are likely to be expenses for producing and printing public education brochures and other such materials. Sometimes government agencies or private organizations participating in the LEMC are willing to pay for some of these expenses from their budgets, but many times other sources of revenue such as filing fees from hazardous materials facilities are needed.

    A critical step in the process of organizing the LEMC is to conduct a planning orientation so the members of the LEMC will develop a common understanding of the process. In preparation for the planning orientation, local emergency managers should anticipate two very important obstacles to emergency planning (Daines, 1991). First, they should recognize that planning agencies lack emergency response experience. Second, they should be aware that emergency response agencies often lack disaster planning experience because they tend to rely on standard operating procedures and improvisation for minor emergencies. In addition, few—if any—LEMC members are likely to be aware of the planning resources available from state and federal agencies, as well as from other sources. Thus, the local emergency manager should introduce LEMC members to the basic tenets of the state’s Emergency Operations Plan, Disaster Recovery Plan, and Hazard Mitigation Plan, as well as provide copies of the state’s planning guidance in each of these areas. Similarly, the emergency manager should introduce LEMC members to the basic tenets of the National Response Plan, as well FEMA response, recovery, and mitigation programs and planning guidance.

    Assess Response Requirements and Capabilities

    Before beginning to write the EOP, Recovery Operations Plan, or Hazard Mitigation Plan, LEMC members need to identify the functions that need to be performed in a community-wide emergency. Information about the likely impact locations as well as the impact scope (area affected) and intensity will be produced by the hazard/vulnerability analyses. These analyses will also identify the residential, commercial, and industrial activities in the exposed locations, as well as locations that could produce secondary hazards (e.g., dam failures or chemical releases) or that have especially vulnerable populations (e.g., schools, hospital, nursing homes, jails).

    In addition, this assessment of response requirements needs to address the likely responses of households and businesses in disaster. As will be discussed in Chapter 8, there are widespread misconceptions—frequently labeled disaster myths—about the ways in which people respond to disasters. Though there is some small kernel of truth in these beliefs, the incidence of individually and socially maladaptive behavior is substantially exaggerated. According to Dynes (1972), households and businesses are the foundation of community emergency response and these organizations respond

    • In their normal forms to perform their normal tasks (existing organizations),
    • In their normal forms to perform new tasks (extending organizations),
    • In new forms to perform their normal tasks (expanding organizations), or
    • In new forms to perform new tasks (emerging organizations).

    In addition, community organizations link to form emergent multiorganizational networks (EMONs, Drabek, et al., 1981). Thus, the mission of the LEMC can be conceived as one of developing a planned multiorganizational network that can be adapted as needed to the demands of each incident involving emergency response and disaster recovery.

    In addition, representatives of the different agencies may have misconceptions about the capabilities of other agencies within their jurisdiction or of agencies at other levels (e.g., state and federal) of government. Consequently, the emergency manager needs to assist the LEMC in addressing these issues systematically so plans will be based upon realistic assumptions about what needs to be done and who will be able to do it (Dynes, et al., 1972).

    Write Plan Components

    As the previous discussion indicates, there will be three plans, the EOP, the Recovery Operations Plan, and the Hazard Mitigation Plan The emergency manager should work with the cognizant committees (especially the Planning, Training, and Exercising Committee and the Recovery and Mitigation Committee) to ensure they have the appropriate persons to draft the components (basic plan, annexes, and appendixes) of each plan. In addition, the emergency manager should provide guidance regarding the structure and content of the plans, as well as resources that committee members can use as they write the plan components. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (1996b) Guide for All-Hazard Emergency Operations Planning is a useful source for the EOP (see also National Response Team, 1987, for hazardous materials planning and US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 1980, for nuclear emergency planning) and Schwab, et al. (1998) provide guidance for the development of the Recovery Operations Plan, especially the integration of hazard mitigation into disaster recovery.

    In most cases, the emergency manager will draft the basic plan and the representatives of each organization will draft the annexes that pertain to their agencies. For example, the police will draft the EOP annex on law enforcement, whereas the land use planning department should write the Recovery Operations Plan annex on temporary housing. Each of the relevant committees—especially the Planning, Training and Exercising Committee and the Recovery and Mitigation Committee, and the LEMC as a whole—should set performance goals collaboratively to ensure that all members are committed to them. These goals should be challenging enough to motivate high levels of performance and should be specific enough that people can determine whether they are making progress in achieving the goals. Goal achievement should be formally evaluated regularly to determine if the planning schedule is being met and achievements should be discussed annually with the jurisdiction’s CAO.

    Evaluate/Revise the Draft Plans

    The emergency manager should ensure that all draft plans—the EOP, the Recovery Operations Plan, the Hazard Mitigation Plan, and relevant sections of the community’s comprehensive plan that contain sections affecting hazard mitigation—are reviewed by other committees within the LEMC to identify potential conflicts between agency task allocations and their resource capabilities, or conflicts between the provisions of one plan and another.

    Obtain Community Review

    Once the draft plans have been reviewed within the LEMC, the local emergency manager should release them for wider review throughout the community. Working in coordination with the Public Education and Outreach committee, the emergency manager should make copies available at libraries and other public facilities throughout the community so households and businesses can examine them in detail. Of course, it is essential that people be notified that the draft plans are available for review and comment. Thus, the Public Education and Outreach committee should make a major effort to meet with neighborhood groups (e.g., community councils, Parent-Teacher Associations) and service organizations (e.g., Rotary, Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce) to summarize the hazard/vulnerability analysis process and its results, as well as the planning process and the general provisions of the draft plans for preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. People should be given an adequate amount of time to review the plans and provide comments. In addition, the emergency manager should ensure that at least one public meeting is held at which individuals and organizations from throughout the community can provide oral comments concerning the draft plans. Such comments should be transcribed and retained in the LEMC’s archives.

    Revise/Publish the Final Plans

    The local emergency manager should ensure that all input from the community review is forwarded to the appropriate committees so they can address any identified problems in the final versions of the EOP, the Recovery Operations Plan, and the Hazard Mitigation Plan. Wherever possible, it is useful to provide a document to accompany each final plan that categorizes the comments received and explains how they were incorporated into the plan or, if that is not possible, explains why specific comments could not be addressed. Once all changes have been made in the plan, it should be submitted to the CAO or local governing body for their approval. At this point, final approval is usually indicated by a page containing the signatures of the jurisdiction’s senior authorities. Copies of the final plans and accompanying documents should be forwarded to all government agencies and other participating organizations (e.g., American Red Cross) having designated roles in the plans. Additional copies of the final plans and accompanying documents should be deposited in the same locations as the draft plans so these documents will accessible to households and businesses throughout the jurisdiction.

    3.4: LEMC Activities is shared under a Public Domain license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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