Welcome To the Washington State Emergency Planner's Forum!

We've created this forum/blog as a resource for all of you emergency planners out there...Public Sector, Private Sector, Emergency Management Volunteers...anyone who has a role or interest in emergency planning. We will be posting the latest news, developments, good ideas, and publications on this site. Look forward to a wide-ranging exchange of questions and answers here!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Emergency Management Organization Self-Assessment Tool

Here's an excellent product for local emergency management organizations to evaluate their structure and capacity to carry out their missions.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rail Safety Alert: Increased Volatility of Some Crude Oil Varieties

If you happened to view the videos of that recent train derailment and subsequent HUGE conflagration last week, you might have asked the same question I did: "How come crude oil blew up like gasoline or propane?" Well, the answer is that certain varieties of crude oil are much more volatile than others.

Planners, when you are coordinating your HAZMAT/LEPC/ESF-10 plans, you may want to inquire if similar types of crude oil are being transported through your jurisdiction. This USDOT safety bulletin has the pertinent details...

Rail Safety Alert: Crude Oil

Friday, January 3, 2014

Washington State Emergency Management Logistics Newsletter

Our own WA EMD Logistics Program staff publishes a quarterly newsletter, chock full of useful information for emergency planners. Here's the link:

WAEMDLogistics Newsletter 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

"Exercise Is Not Optional!"

While the title of this post is a quote ascribed to the late fitness guru Jack LaLanne, it also applies to emergency plans of all varieties. I recently spoke with a fellow emergency management planner from another state, who had written an awesome coordination document for her agency's response to winter storms. The plan came about as a result of serious failures during the previous year's weather incidents. She followed all of the best practices outlined in FEMA's CPG-101, used a valid planning process involving all the right stakeholders, got "buy-in" from those stakeholders, and the plan was eventually approved (and praised) by everyone. So this was a success story, right?

Well, unfortunately this tale didn't have a happy ending, because once this plan had been promulgated (signed) by all the parties, it was added to the "digital shelf" and gathered "digital dust". Despite the planner's repeated suggestions that this awesome plan be validated by at the very least a table-top exercise, none of the stakeholders had time to do that. So, just like an automobile collision you can see coming but can't prevent, this year's winter storms hit and most of the same issues from the previous year showed up again.

Emergency managers aren't fans of the "Groundhog Day" effect for good reason: Repeating your mistakes usually results in people getting hurt, angry, inconvenienced, and losing trust in your agency's competence, not to mention getting your boss fired. And yet choosing not to exercise an emergency plan is a sure-fire method of seeing the same errors again, and again..and again... (Of course, most emergency management folks won't survive too many "Groundhog Days" before joining the ranks of the unemployed!)

So if you have perhaps made a New Year's Resolution to "get more exercise" in 2014, think about expanding that resolution to exercising your emergency plans as well. You and your organization will be in much better shape as a result!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sandy Created a Black Hole of Communication

 This article from "Emergency Management" magazine provides some excellent insights for local jurisdiction emergency planners. One key point: Twitter has apparently replaced AM or FM radio as the preferred method of getting information.    Sandy Created a Black Hole of Communication