Sample Exam Questions – Implementation, Part 7

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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 discussed Implementation relating to Operational Procedures covering Incident Management and the Emergency Operations Center. This month continues our discussion of implementation with a focus on Emergency Operations and Response Plans.

Emergency Operations/Response Plan

According to NFPA 1600 version 2013, “Emergency operations/ response plans shall define responsibilities for carrying out specific actions in an emergency.” As stated in previous articles, these plans should be based on an entity’s risk and “the hazard scenarios developed during the risk assessment.” They should be designed to accomplish the entity’s already “established emergency management program goals” and should “define specific functional roles and responsibilities for protection of life safety, incident stabilization to the extent the entity is required or chooses, and property conservation.”

We learned previously that these requirements may be found in the Basic Plan, Supporting Annexes, and the Hazard-Specific Annexes/Appendices. Furthermore, these requirements may be described in other documentation integrated into the plans and may include items such as checklists, maps, forms, emergency action guides, tables, and standard operating procedures (SOPs). The documentation should identify specific “emergency assignments, responsibilities, and emergency duty locations” and other entity-specific response requirements.

Incident Stabilization

The standard then states the plan shall identify actions for incident stabilization. This is defined as “the action taken to prevent an incident from growing and to minimize the potential impact on life, property, operations, and the environment.”

According to the standard, “incident stabilization actions include the following:

  • Protective actions for life safety;
  • Warning, notifications, and communication;
  • Crisis communication and public information;
  • Resource management; and
  • Donation management.”

The nature and location of the threat or hazard, the magnitude of the incident, the actual and potential impact of the incident, applicable regulations that could dictate minimum response capabilities, the entity’s program goals, and the resources available to the entity for incident response can all impact what incident stabilization actions get implemented and how they are implemented. These should be explained in the emergency operations and response plans.

Life Safety

According to the standard, “protective actions for life safety include evacuation, shelter-in-place, and lockdown and depend upon the nature and location of the threat or hazard.” When putting the plan together, be sure to define “the protocols and procedures for warning people at risk or potentially at risk and the actions that should be taken to protect their safety” as mentioned in a previous article. The requirements for crisis communication and public information, resource management, and donations management also were covered in previous articles.

Access and Functional Needs

Know that the definition of people with access and functional needs continues to expand. The standard defines people who have access and/or functional needs as people who may be visually, hearing, or mobility impaired. Also included are single working parents, people with language competency issues, and people without vehicles, with special dietary needs, with various medical conditions, with intellectual disabilities, and with dementia.

The list is not all-inclusive. It also can include those people “who reside in institutionalized settings, the elderly, children, and those from diverse cultures who have limited proficiency in the local language.” Remember that people with access and functional needs are part of the Whole Community and should to be included in all our Emergency Operations and Response Plans. Failure to do so could create unintended consequences and new crises emergency managers have to manage.

The standard does not describe how to do all of this, so for the exam we refer back to various FEMA Independent Study Courses, such as IS-230d Fundamentals of Emergency Management, IS-235d Emergency Planning, IS-366 Planning for the Needs of Children in Disasters, and IS-910a Emergency Management Preparedness Fundamentals, as well as A Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management: Principles, Themes, and Pathways for Action (FDOC 104-008-1/December 2011).


The application process for both the CEM® and the AEM® does not require the candidate to address Emergency Operations and Response Plans specifically as one of the required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) components for the emergency management essay. However, it does require discussion of Response activities. In addition, many candidates choose the Emergency Operations and Response Plans as a key component of their Problem Statement. Therefore, your essay should include many of the requirements discussed above.

Practice Questions

Here are two core-type questions for our analysis in this article.

  1. Which component of an emergency management program establishes the overall authority, roles, and functions performed by an entity during incidents?

    a. Emergency Management Policy or Local Ordnance.
    b. Emergency Operations Plan (EOP).
    c. Strategic Plan.
    d. Whole Community Strategic Themes.

This question is asking you first to understand what document describes the overall response function for an entity, and then to choose the correct response among the four possible responses. The first response says local policy or laws describe the details of an entity’s response to an incident. While that document provides for the authority to act, it doesn’t go into the details of the response actions (roles and functions) that need to be performed. Therefore, response a. is incorrect.

The second response is the emergency operations plan. We know the EOP should describe the emergency program authorities, the roles and responsibilities of various departments and organizations of the entity, and the functions they perform. It also describes who, how, what, when, and where these functions are performed. Therefore, response b. appears to be the correct one.

Response c. of the strategic plan is incorrect, because this plan lays out the long-term program goals and the associated strategies for achieving them. It does not describe the response function in detail as specified in the question.

Response d. is also incorrect because the Whole Community Strategic Themes “represent pathways for action to implement the principles” of the Whole Community approach and not response actions. Therefore, the correct response is b. See IS 230.d.

2. What section of the Emergency Operations Plan describes emergency response procedures for each threat or hazard that an entity’s plan addresses?

a. Annexes.
b. Basic Plan.
c. Hazard-Specific Annexes/Appendices.
d. Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA).

In this question, we are asking you to recall the components of the emergency operations and response plan and what type of data are found in each one. The first response of the Annexes is not correct, because we know the supporting annexes consist of “functional, support, emergency phase, or agency-focused annexes.” They “describe the policies, roles, responsibilities, and processes for a specific emergency function that can be applied to different threats and hazards.” They do not describe emergency response procedures.

The second response of the Basic Plan cannot be correct because we know the Basic Plan “provides overarching information on emergency operations.”

In the third response we know the hazard-specific annexes/appendices “focus on the unique planning needs generated by the one threat or hazard and are based on special planning requirements that are not common across all threats.” This meets the definition we are asked to identify and appears to be the correct response.

The last response of the THIRA appears to be correct on first thought, but we know the THIRA does not include response procedures based on the threats and hazards. So response d. is incorrect. Therefore, response c. is the only correct response. See IS 230.d.

When reading the questions and responses, be sure you understand exactly what the question is asking of you and read each response before selecting the correct one.

Next Month’s CEM Corner

Next month we will complete our discussion of Implementation with a focus on Employee Assistance and Support. We also will analyze some practice exam questions. As usual, 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, January 2017

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