Sample Certification Exam Questions – Planning, Part 2

Back to CEM Corner

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

Last month we began our discussion of the certification examination topic of Planning with an emphasis on Risk Assessment, followed by an analysis of a couple example examination questions. This month we continue our examination of the topic area — Planning — with a focus on Resource Needs Assessment.

Resource Needs Assessment

The purpose of a resource needs assessment is to determine the gaps that exist between what resources we need to accomplish our emergency management mission and the resources our entity has available for response, continuity, and recovery operations. This is sometimes referred to as a Gap Analysis (Resource Needs – Resource Availability = Gap in Resources).

NFPA 1600 version 2013 states, “The entity shall conduct a resource needs assessment based on the hazards identified and the business impact analysis.” The assessment includes the following criteria: “(1) Human resources, equipment, training, facilities, funding, expert knowledge, materials, technology, information, intelligence, and the time frames within which they will be needed; and the (2) Quantity, response time, capability, limitations, cost, and liabilities.” In addition, “The entity shall establish procedures to locate, acquire, store, distribute, maintain, test, and account for services, human resources, equipment, and materials procured or donated to support the program.” This needs assessment also requires the identification of all the “facilities capable of supporting response, continuity, and recovery operations.” So you can see that a needs assessment is a comprehensive undertaking, and it becomes more complicated for larger entities because of all the resources involved.

What NFPA 1600 does not specify is how to conduct the needs assessment. That is left up to the individual entities to determine. However, in the United States, the National Incident management System (NIMS) defines standardized mechanisms and establishes the resource management process to identify requirements for, order and acquire, mobilize, track and report, recover and demobilize, reimburse for, and inventory resources.

Facilities. According to the FEMA Independent Study Course 230a, “certain facilities are designated as part of the emergency planning process. Typically, these facilities include: emergency operations centers, shelters, distribution centers, storage areas, and other facilities based on an entity’s needs.” Know that “Onscene facilities, such as the Incident Command Post (ICP) and staging areas, typically are not designated in advance because of the requirement for close proximity to the incident site.”

Filling resource gaps. Once the entity completes its inventory of personnel and equipment resources, it then determines what it has available and compares those resources with what it may need in an emergency.

The most common ways to fill these gaps between on-hand resources and probable requirements are:

Pre-emergency purchase of needed resources. The main advantage of purchasing items in advance of an emergency is that, when an emergency occurs, the items may not be available or may be available at a much higher price. Disadvantages include initial cost along with expected shelf-life expirations and that the resources must be inventoried, stored, and maintained, at an additional cost burden.

Mutual aid and assistance agreements with neighboring jurisdictions. These are formal, written agreements between jurisdictions that provide the conditions under which resource sharing can take place during an emergency. It often includes reimbursement and other legal language.

Stand-by contracts and agreements with suppliers of critical equipment and supplies. These typically involve equipment, such as dump trucks or other construction equipment, but are also used for supplies, such as plastic sheeting and sand bags, and for services such as debris removal.

NFPA 1600 version 2013 tells us we have to determine if mutual aid/assistance or partnership agreements are needed, and if they are, these “agreements shall be established and documented.” A good idea is to reference all agreements with the emergency operations plan for ready reference. I also like to include a description of where the approved documents are located.

Sample Questions

For core examination purposes, candidates should know what resources are, what kinds of resources are included in the resource needs assessment, and that the resource needs assessment must be based on the entity’s identified hazards and the business impact analysis. Also, be familiar with the various types of agreements are available to fill resource gaps. For USA-specific questions, be familiar with NIMS and its resource management requirements. Here are two core-type questions for our analysis in this article.

1. Mutual aid and assistance agreements may provide ________ when invoked.
a. Change of command
b. Unity of command
c. Policy decisions
d. Equipment such as bulldozers or dump trucks

Analysis: Mutual aid and other agreements are tools used to fill resource gaps. They often include legal information, insurance, reimbursement, and other administrative understandings. They also can be used to share training, preparedness, and mitigation efforts. So the first, second, and third responses appear to be incorrect as they are not resources, while the fourth response is equipment to support a response and/or recovery effort.

The first and second responses are incident command system processes and do not come under mutual aid or other types of resource-sharing incorrect, because policy decisions are not resources as envisioned by NFPA 1600 and are covered in other documents such as laws and ordinances, policy directives, emergency plans, and SOPs. Therefore, the correct response is the last one, d, because it is the only one with a type of resource specified.

2. Standby contracts establish the price as that which is/was in effect:
a. on the day before the emergency event.
b. on the day of the emergency event.
c. on the day after an emergency event.
d. do not establish price for the resources provided during an emergency.

Analysis: In this question, we are asking about a specific type of contact – a stand-by contract. According to FEMA’s IS 230a, “Stand-by contracts allow entities to purchase or lease items needed for an emergency response at the price in effect on the day before the emergency occurred. These contracts offer two advantages over pre-emergency purchase contracts: (1) They ensure that the resources required will be available within a specified timeframe and at an established price; and (2) They eliminate the need for inventory, storage, and maintenance that accompanies pre-emergency purchase.” The first response then appears to answer the question. But before choosing it as the correct response, we should review the other three options just to be sure.

The second response may be correct, but only if the prices do not increase during an emergency, and we all know they do. So, response two is incorrect. The third response is similar to the second one, in that prices often remain high the day after an emergency event occurs. The fourth response also is incorrect, as a primary purpose of stand-by contracts is to lock in a favorable price. Therefore, the only correct response is a, our first choice.

Next Month

Next month we will complete our discussion of Planning with a focus on Performance Objectives. We will also analyze some practice exam questions. Please send any questions you have about the examination or the certification process to me at info@iaem.com, and I will address them in future articles.

IAEM Bulletin, November 2015

AEM® and CEM® are registered trademarks of the International Association of Emergency Managers.

Back to CEM Corner