MSEM 6200 Week 4: Preparedness: Planning

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MSEM 6200 Week 4: Preparedness: Planning essay assignment

MSEM 6200: Risk Assessment, Preparedness, and Hazard Mitigation | Week 4 essay assignment

Prior to September 11, 2001, federal operational plans were fragmented into five different response plans. The events of 9/11 underscored the importance of having not only a single federal plan but also one that would incorporate state and local efforts as well. The end result was the creation of the National Response Plan (NRP). Unfortunately, the NRP was a classic “paper plan”; this term refers to a written plan that provides the illusion of preparedness. The NRP was full of jargon and was difficult to understand; its focus was still federal rather than multijurisdictional, and it was more than 400 pages long. As a consequence, it was rarely used. The NRP was blamed, in part, for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina.

As an emergency manager, you need to understand the key elements of a well-conceived and thoroughly vetted response plan—one that works in the real world.

MSEM 6200 Week 4: Preparedness: Planning essay assignment

This week, you consider the elements of creating an effective response plan, including leadership needs. You also explore types of hazard planning.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze leadership structure in disaster response
  • Apply hazard response planning types

Discussion: Creating an Emergency Response Plan essay assignment

Perhaps drawing on the experiences of the NRP mentioned in this week’s Introduction, Canton (2007) takes care to distinguish “a plan” and “the act of planning.” Planning for emergencies and disasters is an ongoing and dynamic process that never ends. Skilled emergency managers know that plans are not merely written—they are routinely evaluated and updated. Moreover, there are several multidimensional planning approaches to make the response plan as effective as possible when activated.

When creating an emergency response plan, you may be inclined to write something that describes roles and responsibilities and then perhaps provide a list of action items that will need to be implemented if an emergency or disaster strikes. A more sophisticated and nuanced set of plans goes a step further and integrates a set of different response approaches into a seamless overarching response plan. These planning approaches include (1) a scenario plan based on a particular type of incident; (2) a functional plan, which combines similar functions needed to respond to an incident; and (3) a capabilities plan, which examines not only the capabilities needed to respond to a particular incident but also identifies the capabilities that are lacking and need to be improved (or that can be borrowed from neighboring communities through mutual aid agreements).

In addition, the emergency response plan provides a “leadership structure” akin to an organizational chart designating who is in charge of certain departments and their relationship to other departments.

For this Discussion, review the media Preparedness: Planning in this week’s Learning Resources and then look at the sample scenario (below) depicting a hazard within a community. Analyze the scenario and think about a scenario-based plan that describes how you would plan a response for the incident, including what department would be designated as the lead in the response and what departments would play a supporting role. In addition, provide a statement as to who would be the key leaders in charge of the response.

Scenario: On the outskirts of a large industrial city, there is a factory that produces batteries. Inside it there are some large tanks that contain toxic chemicals that are highly combustible. It has been a dry summer and there is a threat that wildfires may break out near the factory. If the factory catches on fire, there is a high probability of explosion and release of a cloud of deadly corrosive gas. Winds could drive the toxic cloud over a densely populated area.


Canton, L. G. (2007). Emergency management: Concepts and strategies for effective programs. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

With these thoughts in mind:

By Day 4

Post an explanation of the leadership structure that would be needed to effectively respond to the hazard in the scenario. Then explain how you would apply all three planning types to respond to the hazard.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources and the current literature.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 6

Respond to at least one of your colleagues’ postings in one or more of the following ways:

  • Respond to a colleague whose posting was different from yours.
  • Share an insight from having read your colleague’s posting.
  • Offer and support an opinion on application of the three planning types.
  • Make a suggestion for an alternative leadership structure.
  • Expand on your colleague’s posting.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you have learned and/or any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.