Many Local Emergency Planning Committees use the motto "Safety in Knowledge". For knowledge to become practical, it needs to be practiced. Practice requires planning that can be broken into three main topic areas: implementation of basic emergency plan elements, command/control coordination with emergency services, and closing the incident through the critique process. These topic areas can be further refined into a ten step process.

Consider practice a business investment into ensuring a successful failure. This investment, like any other business investment, needs to be part of the overall operating plan to ensure resources, in terms of budget and personnel, and sustainability. The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle can be used to ensure this investment is thoroughly developed for maximum effectiveness.

Act One: Plan
Step One: Need Assessment

Practice planning begins with a needs assessment. The risk based planning process starts by brainstorming a list of emergencies. Guidelines are available through many different sources, such as NFPA, OSHA, and Department of Homeland Security, but the best sources for brainstorming are always the subject matter experts that reside in and around the planning organization. Sometimes more effort can be expended on looking for the perfect plan that developing a simple plan that can be executed with good results.

The National Fire Protection Association's Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs, NFPA 1600, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Continuity of Operations guidance pages are two examples of readily available tools that can assist with this needs assessment. These tools provide examples of threats and hazards that can be used to facilitate discussions with planning groups.

Step Two: Bucketize: Regulatory-Risk-Other

This step focuses on regulatory requirements, what practice legally needs to include, and a risk based analysis of what needs to be done to protect the people designated to respond to an upset condition.

The regulatory analysis will be based primarily on applicable federal, state, and local standards. Industry group consensus standards and industry best practices should also be considered during this step of the process. A good understanding of the process and potential upset and required responses will help with the standards review. Several examples of applicable standards, obtained directly from OSHA and EPA regulations, for review when dealing with basic fire or hazardous material emergency responses includes:

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