Sample Exam Questions – Implementation of Common Plan Requirements

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By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, MEP, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission, and Chair, IAEM-Global Communications Work Group

Last month we completed our discussion of the certification examination topic of Planning, with an emphasis on Performance Objectives, followed by an analysis of a couple of examples of examination questions. This month we begin a new topic area of Implementation with a focus on Common Plan Requirements.

Health and Safety

A new concept introduced by NFPA 1600, and endorsed by FEMA, is to integrate risk management principles into our emergency management planning. This is accomplished by addressing “the health and safety of personnel” within our emergency plans to eliminate hazards when feasible, and to control those hazards that cannot be eliminated. The purpose here is to minimize exposures to hazards as well as reduce the probability of accidents and incidents.

Risk Control Methods

IS-454, Fundamentals of Risk Management, discusses four risk management strategies – risk acceptance, risk avoidance, risk control, and risk transfer. It states, “risk control, also known as risk reduction or risk mitigation, is the most common of the four strategy categories…and…is a strategy of deliberate actions taken to reduce the likelihood of a threat or hazard being experienced, to reduce the likelihood that damage will result should the hazard or threat be experienced, or to minimize harm once a hazard or threat has been experienced.”

Four Methods Emergency Managers Use to Control Risk

There are four methods emergency managers use to control risk. They are listed below in priority order.

  1. Eliminate or substitute the hazard/hazardous procedure for one less hazardous.
  2. Implement engineering controls.
  3. Implement administrative controls.
  4. Use personal protective equipment.

We know that response operations are inherently dangerous. We routinely address health and safety in SOPs, by using trained responders, and by including a safety officer in the Incident Command System. However, recovery operations are also inherently dangerous as normal operations are usually disrupted by the event and many hazards remain uncontrolled. Be sure to include health and safety issues in your recovery plans too. Finally, be sure to integrate risk management principles into the planning process and into all operations.

Plan Components

As we develop our emergency plans, NFPA 1600 version 2013 requires that we identify and document seven specific topic areas. These seven topic areas should be familiar, as they have been a part of our emergency plans for many years. They are:

  • "Assumptions made during the planning process;
  • Functional roles and responsibilities of internal and external agencies, organizations, departments, and positions;
  • Lines of authority;
  • The process for delegation of authority;
  • Lines of succession for the entity;
  • Liaisons to external entities; and
  • Logistics support and resource

These topic areas, as we learned when studying emergency planning, are usually found in the Basic Plan. The other main parts of the emergency plan were described as Annexes, both functional and supporting, and hazard-, threat- or incident-specific annexes (appendices).

How Many Plans?

NFPA 1600 version 2013 doesn’t specify how many plans we need to accomplish our goals. We may have management plans, response plans, mitigation plans, recovery plans, continuity of operations plans, disaster recovery plans, security plans, and health and safety plans, among others. The standard does tell us that our plans may be individual ones (as listed above), one comprehensive and integrated plan, or some combination of the two. The important point is that our plans should be well-coordinated and interconnected in a way that meets the entity’s needs. In prior FEMA documents, we referred to this as comprehensive and integrated plans.

Plan Distribution

Plans are no good if the people and organizations that need to implement them do not have access to those plans. But many plans contain confidential information and procedures that must be protected by restricting access and/or obtaining confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements. This is OK and desirable to maintain appropriate levels of security. NFPA 1600 version 2013 recognizes this need, so it does not require an entity to make complete plans available to all stakeholders. It simply requires entities to “make sections of the plans available to those assigned specific tasks and responsibilities therein and to key stakeholders as required.” According to NFPA 1600, this requirement supports the “multi-organizational coordination of the planning process, ensures no duplication, improves understanding, increases support, and ensures that all stakeholders have a voice [e.g., the National Incident Management System (NIMS)].”

Practice Questions

For core examination purposes, candidates should be familiar with the principles of risk management and how they are applied in the emergency planning process. Also, know about the seven topic areas common to all emergency plans, what each consists of, and where in the emergency plans they are usually found. Finally, know to whom and why emergency plans are distributed. Here are two core-type questions for our analysis in this article.

  1. Which section of the emergency operations plan addresses resource needs and availability?
    a. Administration, Finance and Logistics.
    b. Direction, Control, and
    c. Organization and Assignment
    of Responsibilities.
    d. Situation and Assumptions.

    This question is asking you to identify which section of the Basic Plan contains information about resource needs and availability, so
    you need to be familiar with what information belongs in each section. The first response includes logistics and that covers assumed resource needs and mutual aid. So the first response appears to be the correct one.

    But before we choose, let’s look at the other three possible responses. The second response is the Direction, Control, and Coordination section, which includes the overall framework, tactical and operational control, and multiagency coordination. The third response is the Organization and Assignment of Responsibilities section, which specifies reporting relationships and lines of authority for an emergency response. The fourth response is the Situation and Assumptions section, which includes the hazards analysis and a statement or list that describes the limits of the plan, thereby limiting liability for the entity. Therefore, the correct response is a.
  2. Specifying safety procedures in an incident plan is an example of which one of the following risk control measures?
    a. Eliminating the hazardous operation.
    b. Engineering controls.
    c. Administrative controls.
    d. Using personal protective equipment.

    In this question, we are asking you to recognize activities under each of the risk control measures. The responses are listed in priority order. The first response is to eliminate the hazardous operation. Specifying safety procedures does not eliminate the hazard or the hazardous operation. The second response is to implement engineering controls. These are physical actions, such as building a levy to control flood waters. They are not safety procedures.

    The third response is to implement administrative controls. By definition, administrative controls are procedures, so this should be the
    correct response. The fourth response is to use or wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Though administrative controls may require the use of PPE, the equipment itself is not a procedure. Therefore, the only correct response is c.

Next Month

Next month we will continue our discussion of Implementation with a focus on Prevention. We also will 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, April 2016

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