This section focuses on the Disaster Plan because it is the component of an emergency management program that the IACUC should review as a part of its semiannual program review. The content and scope of the Disaster Plan will be shaped and determined by the individual program and facility. The following approach is one way to create a Disaster Plan and can be useful to the IACUC in evaluating the facility’s plan.
Developing a Planning Team The Disaster Plan is best completed by the group of individuals that would respond to an emergency. The emergency response planning team should be comprised of individuals of various backgrounds and expertise, includ-ing certain animal facility staff and investigators, as well as representatives
from the facility engineering/maintenance group, security, occupational health services, safety, public relations and risk management. Due to site-specific variables such as the type of facility, hazards, risks and available resources, teams will be as unique as the plan. One of the early actions of the team should be to define its mission, goals and methods of operation. The team will also need to enlist project support from senior management so that resources are allocated for implementation of prescribed action plans. Ultimately, they will also need to integrate the facility Disaster Plan with any site-wide or local Disaster Plans.
Defining Emergencies FEMA and other emergency management organizations have described various scoring methodologies to help categorize and rank emergencies. They generally divide emergencies (hazards) into three different categories:
technical emergencies, and
Natural emergencies are the most commonly occurring "disasters" and include weather, seismic or ocean related events. Examples include tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, flood tides, etc. Technical emergencies are mechanical or human failures and include HVAC failures, computer system failures, chemical spills and structural failures. Civil emergencies are deliberate human events such as terrorist attacks, sabo-tage and labor strikes.
When developing a Disaster Plan, it may be helpful to list each type of emergency and include the primary and secondary effects. Secondary effects can greatly complicate a problem and can affect some critical func-tions even more than the primary. To help in planning, the list should include the probability of an event occurring (see Table A). The Disaster Plan should be sufficiently general to be responsive to unplanned types of crises.
As a planning exercise in evaluating primary and secondary effects, con-sider the scenario of a typical, midwinter moderately severe snowstorm, which can present multiple problems. Snow can clog the air intake filters and interfere with the HVAC system, or affect the electrical supply. Snow can contribute to local flooding when it melts. Either snow or flooding may affect employees’ ability to get to work or prevent essential deliveries from
being made. If electrical power is lost, and the facility is relying on emer-gency back-up generators, there may be refueling problems when the fuel reserves are exhausted and delivery trucks can’t reach the site. This example shows how the planning exercise can provide valuable modeling information useful in disaster preparation.
Identifying Critical Functions and Systems Fundamentally, the Disaster Plan should address ways to maintain or cope with the loss of critical functions and systems in the animal facility. To do this, it is important to rigorously identify all critical animal facility specific functions and systems. The critical functions and systems fall into two general categories: mechanical systems and personnel functions (see Table B). It is helpful to compare the list of primary and secondary effects of the different emergencies (Table A) and review their impact on the critical functions and systems. Different scenarios can become the basis for action plans and preparedness activities.
Defining Resources and Contacts The Disaster Plan can also include lists of available resources and contacts to be used during emergency events. The lists can include various emer-gency equipment, spare parts, equipment capacities, levels of redundancy built into the mechanical equipment systems and ways to put the equipment into use. Additionally, this section might include critical vendors that can supply services during an emergency, such as a supplier to perform periodic refueling of emergency generator fuel tanks, as well as up to date emergency personnel notification lists, including criteria for contacting specific individuals. More advanced plans stage the level of an emergency and clearly prescribe the type of response for each level. Other pertinent items such as floor layouts, mechanical equipment plans, the names and numbers of national, regional and local emergency response organizations (FEMA, Red Cross, Police, etc.) and local weather information resources, can be included.
Developing Policies and Procedures The core elements of a Disaster Plan are the policies, guidelines and pro-cedures that are put into action during an emergency. The plan should address very specific emergencies and/or give general outlines for action steps in response to an emergency. Many plans will also focus on coping
with the loss of a critical function or system. This approach is best when it includes evaluation of the reliability of the back-up systems affected during a complex emergency situation. Available resources should be clearly identified and include information on how to access the resources. Clear lines of authority and responsibility should be established and documented.
Training Staff and Testing Emergency Equipment Personnel are usually familiar with "fire drills" through participation in regular emergency evacuation testing of buildings. Effective disaster planning borrows that concept and conducts the same types of rehearsals for other high-risk emergency situations. Exercising realistic scenarios not only provides practical training but also ‘”tests” the emergency plans for deficiencies or vulnerabilities. Similarly, emergency equipment should be tested and maintained in working order. Finally, the Disaster Plan should be made readily available to all staff members. Some facilities have the plan available on internal Web sites.