High-Quality Multi-Hazard Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) Toolkit

4.1 Scenarios and Anticipated Actions

Utilizing scenario-based planning, the members of the planning team can better analyze the functions and actions necessary to effectively prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impact of a specific hazard. By considering scenarios for each hazard, the planning team can identify the common actions necessary for addressing hazards.

How to create scenarios that lead to appropriate actions:

Step 1: Develop a plausible scenario

When selecting hazards for establishing 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 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 are plausible.
  • Significance of Hazard Effect – The effects of a hazard represent the overall impacts to the district. The planning team should consider hazards that would have a significant effect on the district, its campuses and facilities, or community.

Selecting the plausible hazards with the greatest tendency for significant effects allows the planning team to maximize their planning efforts in a shorter timeframe. Once the planning team has created a list of hazards that are plausible and pose a significant risk to the district, then context must be given to each hazard. Context consists of time, place, and conditions. The planning team should consider these questions when developing the context for hazards:

  • 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 worsen the impact of the hazard? Will weather affect the impact of the hazard? Will multiple ongoing events affect the impact of the hazard?

The information below demonstrates how the contextual characteristics can drastically change the risk posed by the hazard.

Identified Hazard Severe Thunderstorm
Scenario with Limited Impact On July 14, 2018 the National Weather Service issues a significant weather statement for Hazard County as a result of a thunderstorm system moving across the region. At 11:30 PM, lightning and hail is reported by local storm spotters. At 11:35, the NWS issues a Thunderstorm Warning for Hazard County and much of the area encompassed by Anytown ISD. Time – The incident occurs late at night during the summer, when there is little or no use of district facilities.

Location – Without a location impacted, the scenario defines no impact to the district.

Conditions – The planning team must brainstorm to determine how this scenario poses a hazard to the district.
Scenario with Significant Impact On October 19, 2018 the National Weather Service issues a significant weather statement for Hazard County as a result of a thunderstorm system moving across the region. At 6:00 PM, Anytown ISD begins its Homecoming activities at I.M. Important Memorial Field, to be followed by the Homecoming football game. At 8:15 PM, lightning and hail is reported by local storm spotters. At 8:17 PM, the NWS issues a Thunderstorm Warning for Hazard County and much of the area encompassed by Anytown ISD. The storm produces dime-sized hail, heavy rainfall, and frequent cloud-to-ground lightning. Time – The incident occurs during a high-profile event in which a large population will be present.

Location – The outdoor venue poses a unique challenge to the hazard posed by the storm system and requires that considerations be made for evacuation, sheltering, and event management.

Conditions – The planning team can easily see the potential impact of the storm system on facilities and populations.

Hazards can have different impacts depending on the time, place, and conditions in which they occur. For any district, there are an unlimited number of combinations of hazard conditions that lead to different outcomes. Districts do not have to consider every possible combination, only those that pose the greatest risk of impact or require unique needs for action.

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

Identify the actions taken in advance to minimize the impacts of an incident. 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. Prevention, 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 measurable activities to allow the planning team to gain an understanding of what is needed to manage the risk. Districts may categorize impacts by:

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

Utilizing the scenario from Step 1, the examples below demonstrate potential impacts for prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery:

Step 3: Identify the desired outcomes.

Desired outcomes or goals describe the timeframe or level of effort needed to successfully address the impacts of the hazard. The district’s ability to address the impacts of a hazard is only useful if those abilities are carried out in a timely and effective manner. Goals outline what the planning team and district consider as successful emergency operations.

When considering goals, districts should not be constrained by the current ability to meet timeframes or other conditions of success. The planning team should establish goals to facilitate the development of functional capability.

Examples of goals 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.
  • 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 implement the weather monitoring Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to ensure the safety and well-being of all persons present on district property.
  • Evacuate 11,500 persons from the stadium to the High School main building within 30 minutes.
  • Shelter 11,500 persons 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 goals determine the actions 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.