High-Quality Emergency Operations Planning (EOP)

4.1 Scenarios and Anticipated Actions

Section 2 discussed the mechanics of the planning process. This was followed by Section 3’s discussion on how information relating to the EOP is gathered. Section 4 will assist the planning team in putting this information to work in a practical and beneficial manner that is supportive of writing a high-quality EOP.

Utilizing scenario-based planning, the members of the planning team can better analyze the functions and actions necessary to effectively mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impact of a specific hazard. By considering scenarios for each threat and hazard, the planning team can identify the common actions necessary for addressing all hazards. Those functions that are generally required to address the needs of all hazards are often best addressed in a functional annex.

How to create scenarios that lead to appropriate actions:

Step 1: Develop a realistic and plausible scenario.

In Section 3, the district’s threats and hazards were identified using information obtained from a variety of assessments. When selecting the threats and hazards for which to establish scenarios, the planning team should consider the following criteria:

  • Likelihood of Incident – Likelihood is the chance of something happening. The planning team should only consider those threats and hazards that are plausible. The planning team can utilize historical data and the various types of assessments (as discussed in Section 3) to determine which hazards and threats are plausible.
  • Significance of Threat/Hazard Effect – The effects of a threat or hazard represent the overall impacts to the district, its campuses and facilities, and its community. The planning team should only consider those threats and hazards that would have a significant effect on the district, its campuses/facilities, or community.

Selecting the plausible threats and hazards with the greatest propensity for significant effects allows the planning team to maximize their planning efforts in a shorter period of time. However, without context, knowledge that threats and hazards exist and pose a significant risk provides little benefit to the planning team. Once the planning team has created a list of threats and hazards that are both plausible and pose a significant risk to the district, then context must be given to each hazard and threat. Context consists of time, place, and conditions. The planning team should consider these questions when developing the context for hazards and threats:

  • How would the timing of an incident affect the district’s ability to manage it? What time of day and what season would be most likely or have the greatest impacts?
  • How would the location of an incident affect the district’s ability to manage it? Which locations would be most likely or have the greatest impacts?
  • What other conditions or circumstances make the threat or hazard of particular concern? Will atmospheric conditions affect the impact of the threat or hazard? Will multiple ongoing events affect the impact of a particular threat or hazard?

The table below demonstrates how the contextual characteristics can drastically change the risk posed by the threat or hazard.

Clearly, threats and hazards can have different impacts depending on the time, place, and conditions in which they occur. For any district, there is a near unlimited number of combinations of threats and hazard conditions that lead to slightly different contexts. Districts do not have to consider every possible combination, only those that pose the greatest risk of impact or create unique needs for action.

Step 2: Identify the anticipated impacts that the scenario would have.

Anticipated impacts define how big or how bad the occurrence of a threat or hazard is and are directly affected by the context that is provided to a specific threat or hazard. For example, an F-0 tornado would have fewer and less significant impacts than an F-5 tornado. Response and recovery related impacts often describe actions that a district would take to manage an incident during or after its occurrence. Mitigation and preparedness related impacts describe actions that a district would take to stop the incident from occurring or reduce its effects.

Impacts should be specific and include quantitative descriptions to allow the planning team to gain an understanding of what is needed to manage risk. Districts may opt to express impacts using categories, such as:

  • Size of the geographic area affected
  • Number of facilities, classrooms, other assets affected
  • Number of fatalities
  • Number of injuries or illnesses
  • Disruption to critical infrastructure/key resources
  • Intelligence requirements and needs
  • Effects of supply chain disruption

Utilizing the scenario from step 1, the table below demonstrates potential impacts for mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery:

Step 3: Identify the desired outcomes.

Desired outcomes describe the timeframe or level of effort needed to successfully address the impacts of the hazard or threat occurrence. The district’s ability to address the impacts of a threat or hazard is only useful if those abilities are carried out in a timely and effective manner. Desired outcomes may also be considered as goals by the planning team, as desired outcomes depict what the planning team and district consider as successful emergency operations.

When considering desired outcomes, districts should not be constrained by the current ability to meet timeframes or other conditions of success. Once a gap analysis is conducted (gap analysis is discussed in detail in Section 5), the planning team can establish additional goals to facilitate the development of functional capability.

Examples of desired outcomes based on the previously discussed scenario and anticipated impacts are given below:

  • Activate the early warning system once cloud-to-ground lightning is detected within 5 miles.
  • Upon the issuing of a significant weather statement by the National Weather Service, the Athletics and Administration Departments enact the weather monitoring SOP to ensure the safety and well-being of all persons present on district property.
  • 11,500 persons are evacuated from the stadium to the High School main building within 30 minutes.
  • 11,500 persons are sheltered within the High School main building for 2.5 hours until the storm passes and it is safe for the sheltered persons to leave.
  • Athletic and Administrative personnel document the losses of $57,500 from concessions, facility use, and ticket refunds and identify alternative methods to reduce total losses.

The desired outcomes determine the functions and capabilities that the planning team should consider when assigning responsibilities. The following section details how the district and each campus or facility can assign responsibility to ensure that prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery activities are effective.