7.5 Advance Planning and Preparation
Drills and/or tabletop exercises also appear to be prevalent among the entities of the incidents reviewed. Many entities also engage in multi-entity training exercises or tabletop exercises. One exercise in South Salt Lake City, Utah, mimicked the incident a year before it happened.
In all of the incidents, an emergency preparedness plan was in place. Most of the plans appear to be an all-hazards plan that can be used for such incidents as tornadoes, chemical spills, and severe weather.
In at least one incident, an evacuation plan for the incident was prepared as part of unified incident command. The evacuation plan was fluid based on incident conditions and information received by the fire department.
In the Big Bear Valley incident, 2 years of preplanning occurred to get people out of the valley and bring fire departments, law enforcement personnel, and utility personnel into the valley; however, one aspect of the plan that was overlooked was a reentry plan. Reentry of residents into the valley proved to be challenging and has been addressed since then.
Each community has a local emergency planning committee for the planning and management of incidents; in Big Bear Valley, it is known as MAST. Some communities have a local emergency planning committee that is very engaged with frequent emergency planning meetings and drills and exercises, while others appear to be less active.
Public shelters were used during all of the incidents, but their use depended on the length of the evacuation and whether family and friends were close by with the ability to accommodate the evacuees.The Red Cross handles the shelters and appears to be on the call-down lists maintained by either the incident commander or the emergency management coordinator.
In one of the incidents, as emergency personnel from outside the area arrived to assist, the evacuation plan updates and structure plans were distributed to allow for familiarization with the location, local conditions, location of water, location of utilities, etc. It provided unfamiliar entities with a way to better understand local conditions.
February 6, 2006