Certification Essay - Expanding the Outline

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By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission

Last month we described our organization, developed a problem to solve, and demonstrated one method of refining a partial essay outline that incorporated Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs). This month we will further refine our outline so we may begin writing the first draft of our essay. Let’s insert our decisions from last month into our outline. It now looks like this.

Modified Outline #2

  • Introduction. Tinytown is a small city led by an elected mayor with its own small police force and fire department. The first responders completed all NIMS training requirements, and Tinytown has a plan to train new hires. Responders are well trained and regularly conduct drills. However, the command structure is not strong because of poor plans and conflicts between the police and fire chief regarding who is in charge. As such, the city hasn’t conducted a functional or full-scale exercise in years. The mitigation plan is out of date, and staff never heard of the National Disaster Recovery Program. Following the recent flooding disaster, the after action report indicated the existing emergency management program was ineffective.
  • The Problem. Tinytown has an emergency management program, and single resource response is strong. However, recent events demonstrated the overall program is ineffective. The emergency management plan is out of date, and the command and control structure does not work for large or expanding events.
  • The Objective. This is an ambitious undertaking requiring multiple objectives. The first objective is to update the current emergency management plan, ensuring that it includes all four phases of emergency management, incorporates an all-hazards approach, and includes all stakeholders involved in our emergency management program. The second objective is to develop a mitigation action plan FEMA will approve. The third objective is to conduct additional training on and evaluating procedures for managing large and expanding events, culminating in an HSEEP-compliant full-scale exercise for the city.
  • Necessary Actions (to achieve the objectives and solve the problem).
    • Prevention activities – safety, information sharing.
    • Preparedness activities – hazard analysis, plans, training, HSEEP.
    • Response activities – EOC, ICS, command and control.
    • Recovery activities – short-term (shelters and debris); long-term (recovery support functions).
    • Mitigation activities – THIRA and new plan.
    • Integrate codes, legislation, policies, etc.
  • Intended Outcome. Tinytown needs an updated emergency plan and a new mitigation action plan.It also needs an effective emergency operations center. In addition, staff needs a plan for managing multi-resource events. Finally, staff must be trained on the new program and the plans evaluated through a progressive exercise program. Therefore, I will develop an effective emergency management program that builds upon existing plans and structure, meets state and federal standards, and fixes the command and control structure. We will declare success when the city is responding to emergencies and disasters in a timely and controlled manner.
  • Human Resources.
    • EM planning team.
    • Mitigation planning team.
    • Exercise design and evaluation team.
  • Material and Financial Resources.
    • Administrative support for the planning teams.
    • Small planning budgets under current funding sources.
    • Small exercise budgets under current funding sources.
    • Planning and training grants; FEMA courses.
    • Mitigation planning grants.
    • Exercise grants and/or integration into other exercises.

You see that we added the last two design elements to our outline. These two elements are related directly to the necessary actions we plan to implement to solve our stated problem.

Outline Looks More Like an Essay Now

Our outline is looking more like an essay now. We have many of the required paragraphs drafted, but they aren’t completed yet. They will probably undergo further revision as we continue to modify our outline, develop the KSAs under the necessary actions design element, and improve the tone and flow of the essay with effective transitions between sections.

Next Month’s Topic: Necessary Actions

The remaining and largest section of our essay is the necessary actions. You can see in the outline above that we have general concepts identified. Now we must expand those concepts to specifically address our stated objectives, with the idea of solving our problem statement. Next month, we will expand the necessary actions section of our outline, ensuring we cover as many KSAs as possible.

IAEM Bulletin, April 2013

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