In the first article in this series, we explored the first step of the High Alert Institute’s four-step approach to disaster/business continuity risk assessment, planning, mitigation, training, and evaluation:
This article will explore Step 2: Use free government software to help you identify risks, mitigation, and write your plan. In this step, you will accomplish the following:
- Score the planning scenarios identified in Step 1
- Build a plan based on your risk scores
- Complete any special business continuity documentation required by those reviewing your plan
Visit the Institute Training Library Contingency Planning Section to download the software packages and resources detailed in this article.
Following the 9/11 terror attacks, a series of Presidential Executive Orders known as the Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs) mandated that every department and agency of the federal government develop and deploy All-Hazards disaster plans, tools, software, and training. Over the 21 years since these HSPDs were issued, most of these taxpayer-funded resources have been made available to the public online through the websites of the authoring agency. These same resources subsequently have become the foundation for disaster/continuity plans across many businesses and organizations.
To the average user, these disaster resources often appear very industry-specific. But remember that very different industries in the same locale are part of the same business ecosystem. Vulnerability scores and consequence scores for the same disaster scenario will vary from industry to industry. The tools to assess risk or write disaster plans, though, may be applicable across industries within the same federal, state or local region. This principle of transferable disaster readiness knowledge is especially true of the planning scenarios discussed in the last article and of the software tools we are discussing here.
The Administration for Strategic Preparedness & Response Risk Identification and Site Criticality Toolkit – or ASPR RISC Toolkit – currently is written to be specific to the Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) sector. However, this same objective and data-driven all-hazards resource can be used by any public or private organization to inform emergency preparedness planning, risk management activities, and resource investments. The ASPR RISC Toolkit provides users with nationally recognized standards-based evaluation criteria in an easy-to-follow, guided format.
Contained in the ASPR RISC Toolkit are three self-assessment modules written as Microsoft Excel workbooks (.xlsx). This allows users to achieve the tasks, as below:
- Identify external threats and internal hazards specific to their site by using objective national-level data
- Assess the vulnerability of their site based on industry standards and guidance
- Evaluate the criticality of and consequences to their site in the event of an incident
- Compare multiple facilities across systems, coalitions, and regions to identify dependencies and interdependencies in a consistent and repeatable method
- Quantitate the relative risk of hazards and threats to business operations
To use the ASPR RISC Toolkit, a non-HPH business needs only to answer questions as if the business is an administrative or federal office (not a hospital) and to answer any questions about “patients” as if the question were asking about “customers” or “animals in your care.” The ASPR RISC Toolkit is under continuous development and review in collaboration with government and private sector experts in emergency management, physical security, and cybersecurity. Reports from the ASPR RISC Toolkit will be used for the second half of Step 2 – answering risk and vulnerability questions in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Business Continuity Software Suite.
The DHS Business Continuity Planning Software Suite was developed to lead businesses through the process of writing a combined business continuity plan (BCP) and disaster response plan (DRP), including recovery of information technology systems. Functionally, the DHS Suite is similar to the guided question-and-answer model used in automated tax preparation.
Each industry sector has regulators, inspectors, and/or insurers who impose disaster/continuity planning requirements. Many of these third parties provide documentation for reporting the required plan, associated training, and exercises/evaluations. The DHS software is able to export the plan as a Microsoft Word (.docx) document that can be spelling and grammar checked, as well as used to complete such specialty documents. Simply cut and paste sections from the plan into the corresponding section of the specialty reporting form.
In the final component of the DHS software, there is a self-directed exercise for testing the newly implemented BCP and DRP. We will discuss this feature in the final article of this series. For more specific instructions and training on how to maximize your use of the DHS Suite, you can visit the DHS YouTube channel maintained for this purpose.
We are ALWAYS stronger together!
Future articles in this series will explore:
Step 3: Set up mutual aid relationship with your staff and vendors
Step 4: Conduct disaster exercises and after-action reviews
Visit the Institute Planning4Good Page for more information.
Griffin Works offers Pawsitive Interactions with Service Dogs During Response Operations©, an audience-customized training that breaks down barriers by offering hands-on handling training and demonstrations with working service dogs for fire departments, EMS agencies, and public safety organizations.
Part of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium and home to the National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center, TEEX has been leading homeland security training since 1998. The major TEEX programs include fire and rescue, infrastructure and safety, law enforcement, economic and workforce development, and homeland security. As a member of The Texas A&M University System, TEEX is unique in its ability to access a broad range of emerging research and technical expertise. Beginning with course design and development all the way through hands-on instruction and national certification testing, TEEX delivers comprehensive training through both classroom and hands-on instruction and as online courses.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Children’s Health Act to raise the standard of care and increase access to services for children and families who experience or witness traumatic events. This unique network of child-serving professionals, caregivers and young adults, researchers, and national partners is committed to changing the course of children’s lives by improving their care and moving scientific gains quickly into practice across the U.S. The NCTSN is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and coordinated by the UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS).
The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The EMI provides national leadership in developing and delivering training to ensure that individuals and groups having key emergency management responsibilities possess the requisite skills to effectively perform their jobs.
The High Alert Institute maintains a list of reviewed courses provided by governments, universities and professional organizations. This list is geared towards the non-emergency management person who participates in disaster planning, preparedness, response, recovery or mitigation as part of their job responsibilities.
The High Alert Institute has partnered with Shutterstock to distribute stock images from the nature images donated by our supporters. For eligible stock images, Shutterstock will donate a portion of the royalty to the High Alert Institute. There is no cost to charitable organizations or to Shutterstock customers.
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Koi need forever homes, too! For pond enthusiasts, freshwater exotic and ornamental fish may not be available through pet stores or rescues in their area. The High Alert Institute Aquatic Pet Shelter Rehoming Program will be happy to assist you in stocking your new pond or adding a new finned friend to your school. Coming soon – when you adopt a Koi from the High Alert Institute Aquatic Pet Shelter Rehoming Program, we can arrange for delivery to your door anywhere in the continental United States.
Have you always wanted a Koi pond but don’t have the space one? Sponsor a Koi in our community shelter pond and we send you photos of your sponsored animal. Coming soon are live Koi Cameras above and below the water to enjoy your sponsored Koi anytime.
Dumping of freshwater non-native species and exotic aquatic pets into wild habitats is a man-made disaster that is truly preventable. The Institute’s Aquatic Pet Welfare Partnership works to raise awareness and reduce the impact on healthy ecosystems through education, as well as rescue and rehoming. Joined by champions of animal welfare and environmental stewardship, this association of aquatic pet rescue operations and aquatic pet shelters across the United States aims to save our finned friends and preserve our waterways together.
Want to share our cause with family, friends, and colleagues? Looking for a non-traditional way to celebrate a birthday or honor someone special? Support the Institute by starting your own Peer-to-Peer fundraising challenge! Let your contacts know why our mission is important to you and what they can do to support your cause. START YOUR OWN FUNDRAISER for the High Alert Institute.
From the staffing pool to the shelter ponds, from the boardroom to the classroom, and from reading the science to writing the analyses, High Alert Institute programs and services benefit from the experience, expertise, and generosity of our volunteers. Put your talents to use for good and to good use – VOLUNTEER TODAY.
Make your donation twice as nice by rehoming aquatic pets and providing a rehabilitation companion pet to a deserving person, family, or facility. Sponsor part or all of a Joy of Koi Program pond installation – complete with rehomed koi – and give the gifts of love and recovery.
Professional photographers, amateurs, and legal copywrite holders are all welcome to participate in the High Alert Institute Nature Photo Donation Program. Sales of the images benefit the Institute and donors are eligible for tax deductions equivalent to the fair market value of their photos. Landscapes, seascapes, animals, flowers – all may be accepted – whether new or vintage images. People may be included in the photo but only if unidentifiable (i.e., blurred figures at a distance).
Did you know that unused patents and copyrights can be donated to charity? Intellectual Property (IP) just sitting on a shelf will lose value as it becomes obsolete. The High Alert Institute IP Donation Program seeks to rescue stranded, technology-related IP with the potential for development into marketable products. Once accepted by the program, the owner/inventor is eligible for a tax deduction equivalent to the fair market value of the IP. The Institute receives the patent licensing fees or revenue from the sale of the IP to businesses, helping us to fund our mission. In turn, businesses are able to advance their markets and create jobs for less money than starting a project from scratch.
Disasters are defined as situations in which needs exceed or overwhelm available resources. Some disasters affect an entire community, while other disasters impact individuals and families. Crises of physical or psychological health can be very personal disasters.
The therapeutic value of pets during illness, trauma, and recovery is well established. And Koi fish may be well suited for people who are not able to provide verbal pet commands or physically care for pets like dogs and cats. Koi ponds are also a source of beauty and peace, providing an ideal setting for quiet reflection or meditation.
We are working to partner with pond installers and aquatic pet rescues/shelters to offer free or reduced-cost ponds with rehomed Koi fish to people seeking this type of pet therapy.
Disasters disrupt life and impact our sense of personal, family, and community safety. Survivors and responders alike often are not aware of the emotional, psychological or spiritual challenges that they may face from disaster onset through recovery. With two decades of experience training responders and communities to prepare for the behavioral health aspects of disasters, we will continue to provide education and a curated list of resources to groups or individuals.
Non-medical factors that impact overall health are termed Social Determinants of Health or SDoH. Noise pollution, poor air quality, and poor water quality are three environmental factors known to have a strong link to overall health. And the same environmental factors that impact humans impact their pets and other animals in their care. We continue to assist in advocacy, education, and technology development to mitigate the impact of SDoH on humans and animals alike.
Our efforts in shelter and rescue are the main focus of our environmental stewardship, reducing the environmental impact of non-native aquatic animals being dumped into public waterways. The High Alert Institute also assists innovators with the design, development, and evaluation of green and renewable energy technologies. Reducing the carbon footprint associated with disaster preparedness, response, and recovery furthers our continued mission to mitigate risk and improve resilience.
We partner with public and private organizations, sharing resources and fostering partnerships to improve disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, and mitigation.
The High Alert Institute team has over a century of combined research experience in medical, nursing, behavioral health, and disaster sciences. Our team provides support to researchers and technology developers through comprehensive literature searches and reviews, as well as failure mode database searches and adjudicated reviews.
When disaster strikes, most aquatic pet owners have limited options to secure the safety of their pets. Sheltering in place may not be possible if there is no power to provide aeration and “pet-friendly” shelters do not include ponds or aquariums. Our goal is to provide an option for aquatic pet owners in need of rescue and shelter for their finned friends.
Our goal is to share our two decades of disaster readiness experience with animal welfare organizations, shelters, caretakers, and pet owners, as they implement contingency plans for natural and manmade disasters.