Are You Prepared? How To Build a Successful Disaster Response Plan
Despite awareness of the increased frequency and intensity of disasters, many survivors still state that they did not think they would ever be personally affected by one.
Climate changes, social demographics, and increasing extreme weather events are the foremost reasons to be prepared. Once a disaster occurs, your moment-to-moment decisions and available resources will impact its short- and long-term effects. Your level of preparedness will directly increase the success of response and can decrease the time of recovery.
It is not “if” but rather “when” you will be impacted by a disaster. APTIM is here to help you evaluate your level of preparedness.
Understanding Your Risk
Preparation requires assessment of which hazards are likely to impact your home, business, or community and then preparing a plan to mitigate and respond when disaster strikes. To start, the growing number and frequency of climate related disasters is clear. The recent Atlas of Disaster examined federally declared disasters, funding, energy reliability, social indices, and combined risks over a 10-year period for all 50 states at a county/parish level.
The findings showed 90 percent of U.S counties experienced a federal climate disaster between 2011–2021, with some having as many as 12. More than 300 million people live in these impacted counties. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Centers for Environmental Information, in 2022, the U.S. had 18 weather and climate disaster—including drought, wildfires, hailstorms, severe weather, flooding, tornados and hurricanes—costing more than $1 billion each.
APTIM scientists, engineers, and emergency management and disaster services professionals help our clients understand and reduce their risks and vulnerabilities. We use data analysis, modeling, site assessment, and our 30 years of experience to identify priorities and then design plans to manage them. We will determine:
- What are your potential hazards?
- How likely are they to occur?
- What are the consequences if they do?
- How critical are the consequences?
- How prepared are you?
- What actions can increase your preparedness?
Building Your Disaster Response Plan
Protect your community or business by ensuring you have a prepared plan; if you do not, build one now. Proactively planning for preparedness minimizes instances of higher risk reactionary actions and allows for coordinated resilient solutions. This resilient posture means recovering faster and adapting to improve future recovery. At APTIM, our experts work with you to build, strengthen, and implement plans with fit-for-purpose solutions to your unique challenges.
Preparing Your Resources
All organizations have a finite number of resources. Understanding and planning for resource prioritization and expanding capacity (quantity) and capability will ensure your plan has the resources for success. Key questions to ask yourself are:
- Do you have enough staff or tools to perform the tasks listed in the plan?
- If there are multiple stressors occurring concurrently, can you quickly expand your capacity and attain a higher quantity of compatible resources?
Training Your Team
Training ensures stakeholders are aware of the plan, better enabled to successfully perform assigned duties once activated, and given the opportunity to provide feedback on processes. Training sessions often raise questions challenging processes or resources. Then, just like any good training, a test is held to determine the trainee’s competency on the content.
Plans are best tested through an exercise in a controlled environment absent the real-world chaos and consequences. Participants of this test should include all of the stakeholders who have roles and responsibilities identified in the plan. It is through this training-testing continuum that a good plan becomes a prepared plan.
Managing Your Plan
A resourced, trained, and exercised plan must be reviewed and maintained on a regular basis. An external partner, like APTIM, can help you manage your plan by evaluating your threats, solutions, and mitigation tactics from a different perspective to determine if you are ready. Here are some key questions to keep in mind while maintaining your plan:
- Are personnel names and contact information up to date?
- Are the technological tools referenced in the plan obsolete?
- Was the plan reviewed since the last disaster activation?
- Are parts of the plan too cumbersome to execute?
- Has the team looked for a better way to accomplish tasks?
- Has someone else evaluated the level of effectiveness of your plan?
Improving Your Plan
One way to increase your preparedness, capability, and capacity of finite resources is by augmenting your team with contracted services. Engage your contractors by sharing your disaster response plan with them and training, exercising, and managing the plan together. Remember: Having contractors is okay. Having prepositioned contractors is good. Having engaged, prepositioned contractors is even better.
APTIM Stands Ready
Now that we have reviewed some of the steps to build a successful disaster plan, the question remains: are you prepared to successfully respond to the next disaster that impacts your home, business, or community? If the answer is no or if you are still unclear, let APTIM help.
APTIM provides comprehensive, full lifecycle emergency management and disaster services for public and private-sector clients through our expertise in preparedness and executing immediate response, short- and long-term recovery, and mitigation strategies. Our team partners with communities to preserve the environment, plan for emergencies, restore essential services and business functions, avoid damage and loss of life, and support whole-community and economic recovery.
APTIM envisions a time when our communities have a culture of preparedness and equity, in which the immediate need of all is addressed while the impacts of future emergencies, disasters, and catastrophic events are mitigated. Contact us to craft a resilient community for you as your partner before, during, and after disasters.
APTIM. In Pursuit of Better.
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