This plan outlines the policies and procedures under which Washington State jurisdiction will operate in case of natural hazards, chemical hazards, terrorist threats and attacks, as well as any other form of emergency. This emergency operations plan has been designed to prepare Washington State Emergency Response Commission and its relevant branches for incident response and to limit exposure and damage that could easily occur as a result of such incidents. By following the Local Emergency Planning Committee requirements, this emergency operations plan outlines the roles and responsibilities of various agencies suppose an incident occurs. This document also gives details of procedures that must be adhered to following occurrence of an incident. Organizational relationships between private entities and government agencies when it comes to emergency response have also been described in this emergency operations plan. Basically, the information contained in this plan is enough to tell its main purpose (Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, 2015). This plan offers guidance for emergency planning, notification, and response in accordance with Title 42 of the United States Code. Additionally, this plan provides guidance in accordance with the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986.
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This plan is a combination for smaller plans for individual emergency incidents because it provides a detailed guidance on how Washington State can respond to all types of hazards. This means that it combines individual plans for specific types of hazards such as chemical hazards, floods, hurricanes, diseases, terrorist attacks, and many others. It means therefore that this plan is a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan that can be used by the Washington jurisdiction to identify, communicate, and respond to varieties types of emergency incidents (Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, 2015).
SITUATIONS, ASSUMPTIONS AND LIMITATIONS
Emergency incidents may occur as a result of different hazards. For instance, hazardous chemical may cause negative impacts on human beings right from storage, usage, transportation, or manufacturing. These impacts may occur in the local areas where the chemicals are produced or from neighboring countries. In addition, natural hazards such as floods and hurricanes may occur in different countries, but their effects may be felt within a wide geographical area. With respect to chemical hazards, a small spill in the neighboring state may impact the Washington State jurisdiction. Moreover, information about terrorist threat in the neighboring jurisdiction may not be distributed to all other countries in the region, but it is the responsibility of every state to ensure that its citizens are safe and that its natural resources are effectively protected.
Emergency incidents can occur any time, and they are likely to cause extensive damage to the community including ill health and damage of resources. Washington jurisdiction is likely to be affected by any type of hazard and the extent of damage will depend on the nature of the hazard. The vulnerable critical facilities include hospitals, schools, nursing homes, media houses, and other infrastructure. Since majority of people in Washington State reside in urban areas, they are likely to experience greater impacts of emergency incidents than their colleagues in rural areas. Children are more vulnerable than adults because of their inability to defend or protect themselves. Washington State jurisdiction normally asks for support from its neighboring jurisdiction when an emergency incident occurs. The federal, state, and local agencies are always prepared to respond to emergency incidents at all times. For this reason, Washington State takes the necessary steps towards emergency preparedness and response by training people from federal, state and local agencies as a way of preparing them for emergency response (Continuity of Government & Continuity of Operations, 2003)
Various assumptions have been made during the development of this plan. For instance, it is assumed that a hazardous material incident can occur from different forms of emergency including chemicals, earthquake, fire, and flooding. It is also assumed that any accent that releases a hazardous material poses a big threat to the local population and to the natural environment. Furthermore, emergency incidents that involve hazardous materials may require that people living in the area be evacuated to safer areas within the Washington State or to the neighboring states. Again, the ability of the rescue to team to protect members of the community in case of a hazardous material incident will depend on the length of time available for the group to determine magnitude of the hazardous materials (FEMA, 2010).
Furthermore, this emergency operations plan has been made with an assumption that changes in weather conditions may call for changes in the action recommendations when responding to a hazardous material incident. It is also assumed that more than 80 percent of people residing in an area where a hazardous material incident has occurred will relocate voluntarily to safer areas. This means that only 20 percent of the population will need to be evacuated by the responders. Additionally, emergency incidents can cause death to more than 90 percent of the population, and cause damage to very important critical infrastructures (FEMA, 1996).
Although the main purpose of this plan is to provide guidance to the Washington State jurisdiction on how to identify, communicate, and respond to emergency incidents, it has a number of limitations. It is important to note that this plan does not guarantee a perfect response suppose a hazardous material incident occurs. Even though it may help to protect some people from the impacts of the incident, this plan may not shield all members of the community from all events that may occur. In addition, the responders may fail to coordinate the plan as required, which may interfere with its effectiveness. Similarly, the responders will use the plan to make any reasonable response but they may be overwhelmed.
CONCEPT OF OPERATIONS
For successful execution of this plan, the Local Emergency Planning Committee will work together with federal and state agencies to prepare and review the procedures used during an emergency incident response. All agencies charged with the responsibility of responding to all forms of emergency will be trained on what they are expected to do when executing a response. The personnel working for these agencies will be expected to extend their qualifications and capabilities in ensuring that members of the community are protected from hazardous materials released from various sources (United States Department of Homeland Security, 2004).
The responders will work in teams, each led by an Incident Commander. The Incident Commander will assign roles and responsibilities to the group members depending on the degree of the emergency incidents and on the available resources. He or she will also identify the most appropriate actions to be taken in order to implement the requirements of this plan. The Incident Commander will coordinate with health officers, regional technician, and local emergency response groups to determine the best protective action. All responders will collect and report relevant information concerning the emergency incident to the Incident Commander, who will later forward it to the Local Emergency Planning Committee (United States Department of Homeland Security, 2004).
The National Incident Management System will provide the necessary direction, control and coordination. In addition, Incident Command will be issues in accordance with the United States Code, Title 42, and with the applicable code of Washington State (Legal Information Institute, 2015). Through the Incident Command Post, the Incident Commander will direct the response activities to members of the response team. The initial focus will be on those people who are in urgent need of help. The response elements will begin by isolating the area of the emergency incident before implementing traffic controls. This will be followed by implementation of protective actions that will target members of the population who are at risk. The Public Information Officer will determine how information concerning the emergency incident will be communicated to members of the public. Overall success largely depends on effective coordination between the Incident Command Post and the Public Information Officer (United States Department of Homeland Security, 2005).
Information which may put members of the public in danger can come from a number of sources including the Emergency Alerting System, government agencies, news wires services serving the Washington State, emergency service personnel who are already responding to an emergency incident, the National Weather Service, and private citizens. This information must be analyzed to determine the degree of impact that it might bring to members of the public. Information which may endanger the public will necessitate warning in order to provide protection. It is therefore important to disseminate this information to ensure that it reaches all persons who are likely to be affected by information which is coming from a variety of sources. Dissemination of information will be carried out through different techniques including outdoor alerting sirens, mass media such as radio and television, telephone, door-to-door sweeps, and through Emergency Alerting System. The method of dissemination will be chosen based on the type of hazard, the size of the threatened population, and availability (SARA Title III).
It will be necessary to coordinate all communication activities during emergency operations in Washington State. During emergency, communication will directly concern management of the incident through coordination of functions. Proper communication channels will have to be established between local communication groups and the Emergency Operations Commander. During emergency incident, it will be important to suspend those functions that are not directly related to emergency, and redirect them towards emergency response. Radio units in the Communication Center will be used as a backup system. These radios will be kept operational and will be tested periodically to ensure their continued operation (United States Department of Homeland Security, 2005).
Administrative functions will be performed by personnel from federal and state agencies. However, finances will be contributed by both government and private funding organizations which will have to lias with Washington State Emergency Response Commission. Fixed sirens will be used in case of fire hazards. These sirens will be activated by Washington State Communication Center. Additionally, volunteers will come from departmental and industrial facilities to operate the sirens. Emergency Alerting Systems will be used in case of any other type of hazard. Severe weather information alerts will be broadcasted through local weather radio stations (FEMA, 2010).
This plan has been developed through close collaboration between the federal state and local governments. These agencies have coordinated with Washington State Emergency Response Commission and the Local Emergency Planning Committee. The primary objective of this emergency response plan is to protect all members of the public from the dangers of emergency incident. All the above mentioned agencies must work hard to ensure that this plan delivers its intended objective. Washington State Emergency Response Commission and the Local Emergency Planning Committee are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that this plan meets its intended objectives. In addition, these two agencies will make appropriate changes to the plan to ensure that it is able to deliver the correct response depending on the type of hazard at hand (United States Department of Homeland Security, 2004).
Regional Fire Authorities: Provide initial response for fire hazard as per individual training and expertise.
Emergency Management Division: Coordinate activities and lead functions for the Local Emergency Planning Committee
Washington State Department of Transportation: This agency is useful during evacuation in situations where members of the public are to be relocated from the area of emergency incident to a safer area, both within Washington State and to the neighboring states.
Washington State Patrol: Serve as an incident command agency during emergency incident response.
United States Department of Emergency Services: Works in collaboration with Washington State Emergency Response Commission and the Local Emergency Planning Committee to protect members of the public during emergency incident.
American Red Cross: Responsible for providing temporary shelter, information services, and basic needs for people affected by different type of emergency incidents.