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

5.3 Fill-in-the-Blank and Narrative Responses

This section revisits the planning templates to discuss the differences in documenting the team’s efforts using narrative and fill-in-the-blank responses.

You can refer to the TxSSC Basic Plan template to see both types of responses that are requested:

TxSSC Basic Plan Template

Fill-in-the-Blank Responses

Fill-in -the-blank responses are designed to identify a specific resource, facility, or individual by title. A fill-in-the-blank response limits the planning team’s ability to provide lengthy responses in order to ensure that appropriate areas of the EOP are directive, rather than descriptive, in nature.

In the excerpt above, taken from the TxSSC Basic Plan template, the four fill-in-the-blank response areas are intended to ensure that the planning team accurately and adequately identifies the resources necessary to establish emergency communications within the district. A district that utilizes email, landline, cellular, and emergency notification systems to communicate emergency messages with their faculty, students, community, and response partners would ensure that all these resources are listed.

The use of fill-in-the-blank responses ensures that the level of specificity necessary for an EOP to be considered high-quality exists. While fill-in-the-blank responses are designed to be limiting in nature, much flexibility exists within the template itself.

Best Practices for Fill-in-the-Blank Responses:

  • Even though a single blank exists, the planning team should consider if more than one resource exists to address the need, capacity, or function. If so, all appropriate resources should be listed.
  • The inclusion of a blank does not ensure that the surrounding text adequately portrays the needs and considerations of the district or campus. While extreme care has been placed in developing the most viable templates for emergency planning, the planning team should evaluate all context to ensure that the district’s or campus’ actual needs are met.

Narrative Responses

Narrative responses are designed to encourage the planning team to describe a specific process, capability, or course of action. A narrative response enables the planning team to provide lengthy responses for the sake of ensuring that appropriate areas of the EOP are descriptive and define the method by which the district will prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from a hazard.

In the excerpt above, taken from the TxSSC Basic Plan template, the four response areas are intended to ensure that the planning team accurately and adequately identifies an individual’s title or department responsible for carrying out defined actions. In this case, the planning team might designate that Food Service conduct additional responsibilities to respond to or recover from the impact of a hazard.

The use of narrative responses ensures that all appropriate processes, actions, and responsibilities are adequately described. As with fill-in-the-blank responses, the context of wording around the narrative response area should be carefully considered.

Best Practices for Narrative Responses:

  • While narrative responses allow a near unlimited length of response, the planning team should consider how much detail should be entered. For extremely lengthy responses, the planning team may determine that a supporting document (appendix) would be more appropriate to contain the wording.
  • The planning team should consider what context to provide with each response. Personnel should be trained on the EOP, and standard operating procedures or policies that guide the responsibilities delegated within the EOP. References may be made to these SOPs or policies rather than rewriting them within the EOP.