Needing to enhance your agency’s planning and preparedness efforts?  Not sure where to start?  Follow these simple steps and put your emergency management program on a healthy and easy to follow “DIET”.

D:  Decide.  Decide what you are wanting to accomplish and achieve.  This may be based off an identified gap for your agency or a planning element that needs to be enhanced.  Develop objectives and strategies that are needed to meet your goal.  Remember to use the S.M.A.R.T philosophy when creating objectives.  Objectives should be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Oriented.  Once you decide…

I:  Include.  Include those partners and stakeholders that will be involved in your planning efforts.  It is important to have the right people around the table and include them early in the planning process.  This not only creates buy-in, but allows open communication and dialogue from the beginning.  This creates an environment where each area of representation can learn what other partner groups can provide regarding supplies and resources and how each agency will be impacted by the various decisions and scenarios at play.  Once a plan is developed…

E:  Educate, Execute, and Evaluate.  Educate agencies and other partners on the plan and share assigned areas of responsibilities with responsible parties.  Allow them an opportunity to review assignments and to distribute tasks out to team members.  Once everyone is familiar with identified roles and responsibilities, execute the plan.  This can be accomplished through exercises or an emergency response to a live incident.  Document response actions as much as possible and follow up with an after action meeting post-event.  Evaluate effectiveness of response protocols and identify areas for improvement.  Be sure to also identify things that went well, so that you keep elements of the plan that were executed successfully.  Update plans and procedures based off measures identified during the evaluation process, then…

T:  Train.  Continually train staff and partners on updated plans and policies.  The more comfortable and familiar they are with the plan, the better it will be executed during the next event.  Continual training also allows you to close the loop and start the “DIET” process all over again.  Remember, preparedness is a never ending cycle of planning, training and exercising.


Jason Stogner is a Principal Member of Crisis Focus, LLC, a full service crisis management and emergency planning firm. He has a wide breadth of experience in Emergency Management ranging from Higher Education to Healthcare.  Follow him on Twitter.