White Paper: Accelerated Access to Disaster Zones
By Private Sector Business
Public and Private Sector Partnerships
by: James Hammill
Accelerated Access Acknowledgements
On September 23 -24, 1997, a focus group meeting of Emergency Management professionals from the private and public sectors was held at the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, DC. The intent of the meeting was to identify ways in which the public and private sector could cooperate to allow for “accelerated access” to a disaster zone following a catastrophic event. Recent disastrous events, both natural and man made, and the frequency of those events, have caused the business industry to rethink their own vulnerabilities. Industry has begun to understand that their recoverability will greatly depend on the community infrastructure as well as having internal controls that create and maintain executable recovery plans for their company.
Due to increased competition and reliance on technology, companies must be ready to implement their recovery procedures immediately. However, under today’s emergency procedures, a company may not have access to their facilities to ascertain the extent of damage incurred. This may cause extensive delays which may not only cause more expense, but may impact its stockholders, community and the very survival of the company.
The focus group represented a number of disciplines in corporate America: finance; data processing; networks; human resources; etc. The public sector was represented by emergency management organizations; law enforcement; training and preparedness; and Mitigation operations at the federal level.
The question that was posed to the group was simple: “Why do companies now need accelerated access to their facilities? This was never an issue in the past.”
The ensuing discussions and exercises during the 2 day meeting provided many causes and reasons as to how and why a company can be threatened, and, the resulting impact to the community-at-large. The goal will be to create a “credentials and badging system” process that will be recognized on a state-by-state and national level.
As a result of that meeting and other findings I have uncovered during my tenure with FEMA, Ihave taken the liberty to create this paper based on our focus group discussions. My intent will be to share this paper with the focus group members, colleagues and industry publications to further the awareness and education of both sectors.
The Committee was comprised of Private and Public Sector representatives as follows:
James Hammill - Special Advisor, Federal Emergency Management Agency (Chairman)
Dave Newsom - AT&T, Manager, Continuity Services Division
Tim Bonno – Southwestern Bell & Public & Private Business Inc.
Dennis Lutz - Manager, GTE
Ron Bearse - FEMA, Preparedness, Training and Exercises Directorate (Facilitator)
Larry Buffaloe - California Emergency Management, Chief, Law Enforcement
Vince Stehlin - Sergeant, St. Louis Police Dept., Emergency Management Operation
Skip Dugger - State Emergency Management Coordinator, Florida
Gerilee Bennett - FEMA, Mitigation Directorate
Don Puffer - FEMA, Response & Recovery Directorate
My thanks to all of the participants in the focus group, and especially to Mr. Bearse for the great job facilitating. Your thoughts, ideas and openness provided the type of exchange that is necessary to the disaster recovery industry to move our concepts forward in an arena that has long been neglected. The ability of each of you to present you ideas and thoughts, no matter how controversial, and to provide opposing opinions for each of the proposed actions enabled me to create a paper that should be given serious consideration at the state and local levels.
JamesHammill, Special Advisor - FEMA
Corporate Contingency Planning
Accelerated Access Overview
Every entity affected by a disaster, whether it is local, state or federal government, individual citizens, local business, or emergency responder has an interest in the community’s rapid return to normalcy. Any conditions that delay the return to normalcy, such as prolonged inability to re-enter the disaster area by the business community carry many costs with them. The tangible costs are easily identified: loss of income by business; loss of wages; lost taxes; lost property assets; cost to insurance companies, etc. The intangible costs are harder to quantify but can carry severe impact to business and the community: damage to financial standings or public image; loss of perspective business opportunities; erosion of customer base; loss of community cohesion and or diminished sense of security, etc.
Private industry and local government both have a vested interest in reducing and avoiding such costs by taking steps to ensure that mitigation measures are identified and implemented. The public and private sector’s can pre-plan and pre-identify emergency activity and response for the effective management of access to the disaster area by the private business sector.
A well conceived and executed “access program” will ensure that the right people can quickly enter the right areas, at the right time to hasten the process of the community’s return to normalcy. The quicker the economic infrastructure is re-established, the lesser the chance of severe impact by the tangible and intangible effects mentioned above. This will help business, community and perhaps national interest depending on the disasters circumstances.
Natural and man made disaster may cause extensive damage to private facilities which are critical to the restoration of communities in our nation. The corporations, small companies and individually owned businesses may be vital to the community’s recovery effort and return to economic viability. It is therefore important that these company’s have the ability to access their business locations to perform basic restoration activities to assess damage, secure property and begin business activities.
To create a process to enable business concerns effected by natural or man made disasters to have “accelerated access” to their business property to assess the extent of damage to their facility. This will enable company representatives to make prudent business decisions regarding short and long-term impact to the business and their customers. The business owner and recovery planners will be better able to assess the extent of recovery operations that will need to take place. The effected business can begin to implement immediate action plans to protect their company and customers from the unanticipated business interruption.
It may also eliminate undue insurance costs associated with moving or relocating the business, equipment, employees, etc. in order to resume business activity.
This process will also serve as a catalyst for business concerns to mitigate against unnecessary loss by creating/updating “business recovery plans” for their company location(s). The only way to participate in this process is to have written and executable plans by physical property location(s), review plans with external auditing firms and or insurance agent(s), and local government officials that will be in charge of safety and security in the affected area.
Create controls and an identification process on a state-by-state basis, which will grant private sector establishments access to their property prior to general public access. This must be done within the framework of the existing “Incident Command Structure” (IC) and without circumvention of life safety issues in the “geographic incident area.”
Prior to a disaster, the local businesses will work with local Emergency Management (EM) to develop procedures to grant access to local company officials for the purpose of business restoration. Likewise, the businesses will review their detailed recovery activity (non-proprietary) with the public EM officials. The local EM officials will be provided with and maintain a list of private sector emergency responders and other personnel with restoration assignments.
It must be understood that access to disaster areas will be controlled by local law enforcement. However, awareness of the process must occur at the county, state and local levels should the disaster be of a magnitude that their involvement is necessary.
To institutionalize pre-planning mitigation efforts by the public and private sector to minimize the effects of a catastrophic event which could disrupt the community’s vitality. A cooperative planning effort should identify business dependencies on the community infrastructure as well as surfacing the economic impact that could befall the community due to the disruption or cessation of business in the area. It will be imperative that inherent risks to the area be uncovered and addressed so as not to disadvantage the community’s return to economic viability or unduly penalize the business concerns that underpin the community’s financial fabric.
An outgrowth of that partnership will be to create an “Accelerated Access Program” which will support the objective by:
· Reducing long term economic impact within the community
· Creation of a database of “Accelerated Access” credential holders
· Create a “Badge” of common design recognized by all states. The badge will be known as the “Company Disaster Response Team” (CDRT)
· Establishing guidelines and standards for implementation at the state and local level
· Creation of a educational training curriculum for private sector emergency responders which supports and interfaces with the existing public sector training curriculum
· Foster partnership relationship between community and local business concerns regarding preparedness issues
· Creation of awareness programs
This paper is based on a 2 day focus group session of emergency management personnel from the local, state and federal levels as well as business recovery professionals. The public sector groups representation spanned the disciplines of: emergency response; training and preparedness; mitigation planning; and law enforcement. The private sector representation included: communications utilities and an array of corporate business functions including: finance; customer service; data services; human resources; corporate emergency response and preparedness; and communications network recovery at a national level.
The concern of business is simple: A company’s survivability in this global marketplace and economy hinges on its ability to serve its customers and protect its brand name. Due to advances in technology, communications, instant news and media coverage, competition in the domestic and global marketplace, etc., a disruption of any type may adversely affect its ability to recover or protect itself from competitive pressures elsewhere.
The resolution is much more complex: In this marketplace, business disruption takes on a new dimension, the very survivability of a company. In many companies, from the smallest to the largest, outages are being viewed as intolerable. It’s clear that many of the factors that can impact a business are external to the business itself. Dependency on the community’s lifeline infrastructure, e.g. gas, water, communications, power and roadway access, to name a few, are vital to the company’s recovery. Protective measures need to be identified, documented and implemented. It’s in the “best interest” of any company to take steps to maximize their recovery efforts by protecting themselves, stockholders, employees and the community at large. To do this, they must partner with the community to assure that all of the components and dependencies between the community and businesses are surfaced. Once those dependencies are known, the planners can determine the level of importance and the amount of risk that is associated with the critical components. It may be necessary to take some action to lessen the risk to that area if feasible. The failure of any of the dependent pieces can cause long term debilitating effects to the business and community.
· Accelerated Access does not over ride any life safety issue
· Emergency management cannot rely on government alone; The private sector has a clear stake in the health and economic security of the community at large and therefore need to be and active partner
· The frequency, degree and costs of disasters requires that we raise expectations about what can be done, in the spirit of partnership, to build safer disaster-resistant communities
· The private sector can do more to identify risks and decrease its exposure to business disruption; provide for orderly response and recovery; and minimize incurred insurance expenses
· New partnerships will call for unprecedented cooperation among non-traditional combinations of players, such as: public and private sector emergency planners; land use planners; building code and ordinance professionals; and others.
The findings of the focus group were wide spread. The following are high level bulleted items deemed to be significant:
· Lack of awareness by business owners regarding the dependency on the community infrastructure
· Lack of awareness by community leaders regarding the return to economic viability due to delays imposed on local businesses. The community and business leaders need to partner and identify economic exposures to the businesses and community-at-large
· Accelerate implementation of business recovery plans
· Lack of coordination for business concerns at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC)
· Not all businesses have business recovery plans. Plans will be mandatory to take advantage of the “Accelerated Access’ program
· Responding personnel need to be identified, trained, and introduced to local command and control officials (ICS)
· Liabilities need to be clearly defined. Government cannot be held liable for employees injured as a result of “Accelerated Access”
· Creation and acceptance of “Indemnity”
· Business and employee agrees to hold harmless the local, state or federal government(s) for injuries incurred in the incident area
· Employee will be covered by the company’s insurance and workman’s compensation programs
· Corporate responders should have a “family emergency response plan” to assure that their families are evacuated or sheltered in/at a secured site. This may have to become part of the company response plan.
The cost and frequency of disasters in this country have become staggering. Billions of dollars have been spent to recover from disasters. Government spending and private insurance company payments are at an alarming high. Insurance industry records indicate that 54% of the catastrophe dollar loss from 1949 to 1996 have occurred from 1990 to 1996 (1949 to 1996 dollars normalized to a constant dollar value). The federal government has spent almost $20 billion dollars in the last ten years for response and recovery and associated “after the fact” programs.
A collaborative effort between the public and private effort can significantly reduce the costs associated with disasters. The “Accelerated Access” program can go a long way in helping to reduce the response cost by the public and private sectors by preparing plans ahead of time and identifying their respective dependencies and the inherent vulnerabilities.
The private sector will be required to create and share their plans with the public sector. The public sector will be able to incorporate private sector requirements and needs into their response plans. Jointly, each will understand the liabilities facing the community and businesses within, and work towards strengthening the dependent areas identified, and the bonds between the public and private communities.
· Create a single ID badge, which will be recognized in every state and by local law/fire enforcement agencies in the country. The badge is MANDATORY and will contain:
· Photo of employee
· State Name
· CDRT (Corporate Disaster Recovery Team)
· Name of Individual
· Company Name
· ID Control Number (Unique to each badge)
· Expiration Date (Valid for a maximum of years)
· Signature of State EM and issuing County Director
· Bearer Instructions:
· Secondary ID’s required
· Drivers license
· Company ID
· Hard hat, reflective vests (green, yellow, orange), safety shoes
· Access granted at the discretion of the Incident Commander
· Access granted to provide business restoration only. Private sector responders may require escort. To be determined by the Incident Commander at the scene
· Badge is to be used for corporate disaster response only
· Obtain grant money from private and/or public sectors to create a database containing pertinent information as determined by the county and state EM Officers. Equipment and software will be maintained at the state EOC
· Create an “Awareness and Education Programs” for both public and private sector personnel
· Create, staff and fund an EOC position for business concerns. This position will:
· Assure that credentials are valid and communicate such to the local officials responsible for command and control of the disaster zone
· Maintain data base of active “badge” holders and company contacts. Know who will be responding on the company’s behalf (responders could conceivably be from outside the effected state)
· Act as the central-point-of-contact and “clearing house” for all businesses in the disaster zone
· Assure that the company “badge” holders assemble at a single location (staging area) identified by the County EM Coordinator (either pre-determined or at time of disaster)
· Assure that companies and local EM meet at least annually to review recovery procedures/plans and adjust accordingly
· Provide private and public education to area corporations regarding established response and access operations
· Provide public education to the area emergency response agencies (i.e. fire/law enforcement and National Guard) as to the use and limitations of the identification badges
· Maintain a working relationship with corporations through planning associations and Chambers of Commerce
· Within the local EOC, ensure that corporate response information is available to appropriate Emergency Support Functions (ESF’s)
· “Badge” holders will be escorted to and from company site location or given permission to travel unescorted to the site at the discretion of the local coordinators
· Mandatory classes for those holding credentials (must attend refresher course every 3 years or sooner as dictated by local practices)
· Suggest classes on “basic safety” and “HAZMAT”, as deemed necessary or required by the state and local EM management
· Chief Executive Officer (CEO) awareness
· Local businesses
· Local town leaders
· State Officials
· Local fire and law enforcement
· Corporate responders will be encouraged to have a “personal/family emergency response plan”
· Private sector must create and share non-proprietary recovery plans
These recommendations are a starting point and are not intended to be all-inclusive. The “Accelerated Access” program, if adopted, must be controlled at the local level.
However, due to the nature of the emergency responder’s geographic disbursement, the program must be recognized at the state level at a minimum.
It’s also conceivable that responders would have to travel across state lines. The inevitability is that this program should have national recognition, although my strong recommendation is that it must be administered on a state-by-state basis, and preferable at the county/local level.
There will be many factors that will come into play depending on the inherent risks to the area (earthquake, hurricane, terrorist attack, etc.), concentration of businesses in a geographic area, impact and importance to the local or national economy, residential population, etc.
Each can be handled differently and have higher or lessor importance depending on the communities circumstances.
It will be up to the community and business leaders as well as the state representatives to determine how or if this type of a program should be implemented within the state.
James Hammill is Special Advisor for FEMA, Corporate Contingency Planning and a boardmember of the Editorial Advisory Board for DRJ.
This article adapted from Vol. 11#1
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