Validating and Auditing Plans
Table of Contents
Planning for unpleasant emergencies before they occur is crucial because it reduces the adverse impacts that these emergencies have on an individual and the community as a whole. The consequences of the emergencies that were not planned for have created the need for counter emergency plans that are not only documented but also actionable. An earthquake emergency plan validated and audited in the current paper entails actionable procedures that can be taken in the event of the occurrence of an earthquake. An earthquake is one of the most common unexpected catastrophes that hit various nations worldwide. Some earthquakes are predictable while others are not. The current plan includes what needs to be done to reduce the unpleasant effects caused by earthquake occurrences.
The emergency plan involves three stages, each detailed with set procedures, namely before, during, and after the earthquake. These stages are interrelated; hence, some steps in the event of the earthquake cannot be made unless some measures are taken before and during the earthquake. Before the occurrence of the earthquake, the plan involves certain safety measures that should be included in building constructions and equipping. This stage also involves giving guidelines on earthquake preparedness. It focuses more on the awareness that needs to be created and the availability of resources that are vital in the occurrence of the earthquake. The second part of the plan entails the particular individual actions that need to be taken by different groups of people when earthquakes occur. It involves actions of those outside and inside a building. This stage also covers those who are already injured or trapped somewhere. The final stage entails actions taken by various groups of people after the earthquake has ceased. These groups are the victims, rescuers, firefighters, and the relevant medical personnel. The following paper tests the validity of the earthquake emergency plan using various important and key indicators of a credible emergency plan.
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To begin with, seven crucial factors need to be applied effectively to the emergency plan for it to be valid. These factors are acceptability, adequacy, completeness, consistency and standardization, feasibility, flexibility, as well as interoperability and collaboration. These aspects have to exist in the emergency plan for it to be reasonable and workable. Each of these aspects aims at evaluating unique and individual qualities of the emergency plan that guarantee its success. The uniqueness of each of these factors combined gives an acceptable definition to the emergency plan.
First, the plan is acceptable if it is consistent with various applicable laws, ranging from the legislation of the country to the specific rules governing the stakeholders. Second, the plan is defined acceptable when it adequately meets the requirements and needs of the scenario for which it is made. The acceptability of the plan is also determined by the feasibility of its implementation with the costs and time that the public and senior officials can support.
The earthquake emergency plan concurs with the most fundamental law of the Constitution, which states that every individual has a right to sanctity of life. This plan is majorly based on protecting the lives of people in the occurrence of earthquakes. The plan is also concurrent with codes of ethics governing medical practitioners and firefighters. All the actions that these skilled personnel is expected to perform in the occurrence of earthquakes strictly comply with rules and regulations that govern their work definition and ethics. These rules and regulations dictate that they should do their best to protect the lives of victims in their hands. Moreover, this plan precisely describes particular circumstances in which people find themselves when an earthquake occurs. The plan outlines all the steps that should be taken by different groups of individuals during earthquakes. It explicitly allocates roles to various stakeholders involved in the rescue process. The plan is quite precise and answers all questions about the actions of victims depending on the magnitude of the earthquake and its consequences. Finally, it has no outrageous financial demands because the government and the public provide all the resources needed in its implementation. The plan rarely addresses the need for the victim to contribute funds but rather advises to follow precisely the stipulated rules and guidelines. This plan is, therefore, acceptable.
The plan is said to be adequate if the assumptions that underlie it are real and properly addressed. Adequacy is also achieved by the plan if it explicitly addresses critical individual tasks that when performed properly meet its general objective. The tasks should directly lead to the fulfillment of the agenda of the plan; otherwise, it is rendered inadequate. The earthquake emergency plan clearly indicates the individual tasks performed before, during, and after the occurrence of earthquakes. The plan’s primary objective is the protection of life and property. Depending on this aim, the plan clearly explains that building owners should cooperate to improve the safety of victims in the event of earthquakes. The plan also indicates the task of employers in training their employees on how they should respond to shocks that come when quakes occur. The job of the government is to help promote awareness and provide rescuers and medical personnel with resources and equipment at the local level. The role of emergency rescuers is also explicitly stated, namely to reach a place immediately after an earthquake and follow a correct chain of command in rescuing victims (Yang et al., 2004). Victims also have their individual tasks before rescuers arrive.
Completeness is another fundamental aspect of an emergency plan. A complete plan has to stipulate clearly the goals, as well as state major actions and tasks that need to be done. In addressing these three aspects, the plan should entail the required personnel, resources that they would require, and ways these resources will be made available, used, sustained, and finally demobilized. The complete plan also includes everybody affected by the plan, the timelines of specific tasks, and the indicators of the success of the plan. The objectives of this emergency plan are saving lives, reducing the number of casualties, and diminishing the damage to the property. The major actions involve the proper construction of buildings, training employees on safety measures, individual steps that are to be taken by victims, and the work of emergency rescuers and medical personnel.
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The plan also addresses time guidelines. For example, proper building construction and employee training are done before the earthquake. The actions of victims are limited to the time of the earthquake occurrence. The actions of emergency rescuers and medical personnel come after the quake. The staff needed for the accomplishment of this task is also clearly indicated as building experts, eternal informants, medical personnel, and emergency rescuers.
Consistency and Standardization
A consistent plan is streamlined towards a particular direction. All the actions stated in the plan do not contradict one another and are comprehensively working together for the achievement of the goals of the plan. The consistent plan flows clearly from one event and action to another, it is ordered and has no conflict within itself. Standardization defines the quality of the tasks that are to be undertaken in a manner that details these tasks. Standardization is the quality of the plan that makes it viable and rated better than others. Standardization is the aspect that ensures that none of the tasks fails and that the tasks are done in an expected way without flaws. The earthquake emergency plan clearly states individual roles before, during, and after the earthquake. None of the tasks contradicts, and neither do individuals tasked with different decisions. The duties relay one another and work comprehensively to save lives and reduce damage to properties. For example, victims are advised to stay in safe positions until the earthquakes end. When the earthquake ends, they should find a way to evacuate the building by watching falling debris and sharp objects that can cut them. Victims should also administer first aid to their colleagues who might be injured before the arrival of medical personnel. These actions are consistent and do not contradict one another.
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The plan also states that emergency rescuers should operate in the presence of a chain of command to avoid confusion and contradicting actions. They should explicitly consider whether there is a need for evacuation. When they find evacuation viable, they begin the process and supply respiratory kits to victims who are yet to be evacuated. Rescuers should first look out for victims who are disabled and for casualties that need urgent medical attention.
Feasibility is an essential aspect of a valid plan. It is all about the realistic nature and the availability of needed resources. A feasible plan should first list all the required resources for its success. The plan should then proceed to indicate all readily available resources and the ones that are sourced from outside. The plan should then show how the resources that are brought from outside can be easily made available within the acceptable and valid timeline. Finally, the plan should clearly indicate how these resources would be integrated from various sources to help achieve the objective of the plan within the viable timeline. A good number of resources required to accomplish the earthquake emergency plan are made available before the occurrence of the earthquake. Resources such as first aid kits, good communication gadgets, fire extinguishers, and emergency exits are made available in buildings even before earthquakes. These resources are mostly made available by building constructors and employers. Other resources are heavier fire extinguishers, rescuing machinery, detailed medical appliances and medicines, and respiratory kits for victims. These resources are brought to the scene by emergency rescuers who come with medical personnel. These resources are usually made available by the national government that distributes them to local governments that then give them to respective emergency rescuers offices, like the local fire station and local emergency hospital units. The plan effectively explains when these resources are brought into play and by whom.
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Flexibility is the aspect of the plan that allows the possibility of a decision to be decentralized. Flexibility also makes the plan applicable and adaptable to small- or large-scale occurrences (Smith, 2013). The earthquake emergency plan focuses on saving lives and reducing destruction of property in the occurrence of earthquakes. It should be mentioned that earthquakes can be of different types, and the uniqueness of earthquakes is based on the magnitude. Earthquakes can be of high, mid, or low magnitude. The emergency plan considers both high and low magnitude earthquakes. For small magnitude earthquakes, the actions to be taken are majorly based on the victim. As mentioned earlier, the plan advises the victim to stay in safe places within the building until the earthquake stops. Afterward, victims should leave the place and be careful of sharp objects and falling debris that might still be hazardous. High magnitude earthquakes are to be responded to by communication with the outside source that contacts emergency rescuers who are to rush to the buildings immediately after the earthquake. Emergency rescuers are to evaluate the effectiveness of evacuation and comply to a chain of commands as they perform the evacuation. The emergency rescuers team includes firefighters and medical personnel.
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Interoperability and Collaboration
A good emergency plan has to be inclusive and collaborative. A plan is interoperable and collaborative when it comprehensively covers the role of other stakeholders who also have similar plans who contribute to a part of the plan. It recognizes the resources and skills that are brought on board by other stakeholders and includes the interested parties in the planning process. The plan should also indicate how various stakeholders would connect and work together in the occurrence of an event (Özdamar, Ekinci, & Küçükyazici, 2004). The earthquake emergency plan includes the government represented by local authorities, building constructors, employers, and the emergency rescuers team. The government is included in the plan as it supplies resources that emergency rescuers use during rescue missions. These are heavy evacuation machines, respiratory kits, medicine, and heavy fire extinguishers. The local government delivers these resources to emergency rescue bases and hospitals. Building constructors are to build in such a way that presupposes easy escape from the building in the occurrence of earthquakes. At the same time, employers are responsible for training employees and providing first aid kits in the office buildings. In the construction of this plan, the seismologist department, the government, building owners, and emergency rescuers are involved. These groups discuss their plan availability and their resources.
Plans are further validated through four major testing methods that include the talk through, table-top exercise, field exercise, and the walk through (Government of UK, 2014). These four methods complete the validation of the plan, authenticate its applicability, and determine its workability. Furthermore, they analyze the logic of the plan in detail. They peruse individual steps, procedures, and viability. These methods also practicalize theories in the plan to test their literal applicability. They make the plan as close to reality as possible (Guidelines, 2015). The following part of this paper seeks to analyze the earthquake emergency plan with respect to these four testing methods and prove its validity.
Talk Through Testing Method
The talk through exercise is discussion based. It mostly occurs during the final stage of compiling the emergency plan. Talking through involves bringing together all the stakeholders and the parties involved in a particular plan and discussing the viability of the plan with their individual responsibilities. During this stage, relevant persons involved analyze their roles in the plan. They then decide whether individual roles and responsibilities that have been given to them are workable. The talk through exercise can take more than a day since each action in the plan has to be analyzed into details. The resources needed for each action and their availability are also considered. The talk through exercise places the documented actions at a level where they are operational. Stakeholders also discuss how they can integrate their resources and personnel for the achievement of the general objective of the plan. This method is cheaper and easier to adopt as it only involves bringing together all the stakeholders and discussing the workability of the plan. This practice also suggests that the plan should be changed in the areas that are found inapplicable.
In the case of the earthquake emergency plan, the talk through process would involve bringing together seismologists, the government, building constructors, building owners, employers, and the emergency rescue team. All these stakeholders would critically analyze the possibility of the roles given to them in the plan. If all the stakeholders agree to the workability of their given responsibilities, then the plan is validated. Seismologists will have to give correct predictions of earthquake occurrences on time; the government will have to avail the resources required; building constructors should construct buildings in a way that enhances escape and evacuation in the event of the earthquake. Employers will be responsible for training their employees on measures to take during low and high magnitude earthquakes. Finally, emergency rescuers should avail themselves to the affected area to offer rescue services to victims. This method is relatively tedious as it could involve several sessions; it also limits the plan to theorization rather than the actual practicability.
The table-top exercise is a bit similar to the talk through exercise, but it involves a simulated circumstance. This exercise also presupposes bringing all the stakeholders on board to discuss the workability of the plan. A detailed scenario where a similar event as to the one being planned for is presented. The event is then discussed in light of the plan. The event might have occurred before or a similar one can be imagined. The suitability of the plan is, therefore, viewed in light of its practicability in the event that had occurred (Government of UK, 2014). Stakeholders are usually the same people who participated in containing the previous crisis used in the analysis. The challenges faced during containing the previous crisis are discussed, and the plan is scrutinized to see whether it has addressed these challenges. This exercise is more practical and validating than the talk through exercise.
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In the earthquake emergency plan, this exercise would involve presentations of the details of two earthquakes that have occurred before. One of the earthquakes is of a low magnitude and another one is of a high magnitude. Then, stakeholders discuss the dynamics of these earthquakes in relation to the current earthquake plan. The shortfalls of the previous operations are also discussed, and the current plan is analyzed to see whether it mitigates these shortfalls. The plan is then implemented virtually in the detailed similar scenario that has been presented. This exercise is one of the best methods to validate a plan.
Field exercise typically involves the real radicalization of the plan. It entails a simulation of a similar event not in the discussion but in action. The activity is coordinated and supervised. It is then employed to test the functionality of the plan. Field exercises can be conducted with or without the knowledge of victims. This exercise implements individual actions in the plan, and each stakeholder should adhere to the particular part of the plan.
This exercise might not prove effective for the earthquake emergency plan because it is impossible to induce an earthquake. It can only be applied in a circumstance where people are caused to assume that an earthquake has occurred, which might not inspire real reactions as stated in the emergency plan. It can also be applied when building occupants are caused to act in the way they would react in the event of earthquakes.