Emergency Planning with Fresh Ideas

Last year, Cordova adopted a new Emergency Operations Plan, to guide us through any potential hazard that could arise. It is written from an “all hazards” approach, written so it can be used for a wide range of emergency situations. The plan was first used and tested during the statewide drill in April…quite literally used and tested. In fact, a working copy was ripped and torn into pieces and distributed to folks who needed it during the exercise itself. No sitting of the shelf and gathering dust for that plan!

But what happens a year later?

Is the plan ever updated? Do the lessons from the big exercise change it at all? Did we really learn anything from that big drill? The answer, to all of those questions, is yes. After the drill, input was gathered from exercise participants. This was no small feat in Cordova, considering we had over 700 people involved in the drill. Feedback and suggestions were in the form of “hotwashes” or evaluation forms. The official “hotwash” is a gathering of the participants and evaluators immediately after the exercise, where everyone has an opportunity to discuss their perspective on how well the process went. After the feedback was all gathered it was sent to the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHS&EM).

Since then, Cordova Emergency Management Planners have attended numerous DHS&EM seminars, and have discussed, at length, each of the comments that were suggested and submitted. Then, from that discussion, a list of suggestions was created. That list was not just a generic “pie in the sky” wish list, but instead a very specific list of needs and changes to be made. A timetable was also created, in which to implement some of the suggestions and changes to the procedures and plan. After that eventually gets done, the process starts all over again. You test your plan. You evaluate what works and what does not work…and you update your plan.

Just so you know, right now we are in the process of discussing the needed changes. The plan lives and continues to be a work in progress. Cordova is trying its best to be Ready. To be Prepared.