Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

These are questions and comments emailed to our web site with reply answers.

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Questions About:

General Information

All-Hazard EOP™

All-Hazard EOP (ESF)

EOC System

EOC System ESF

EOC-X™ Exercise

EOC SimCell

EOC Info Tracker

HICS System

HICS-X Exercise

 

General Information

Q: Can you provide a 30-day demo of the software, so that I may test and show our management to determine its capabilities and usefulness?

A: http://www.emergency-planning.com has a sample EOP Annex. Also, we offer a 30-day money back guarantee. So, you can try our products, risk free.

 

Q: Does the software meet FEMA standards and how do you keep the software current as to these standards?  See NIMS Compliance

A: None of our products are software; they are application files in Microsoft Word® and Excel® or newer. Our products meet FEMA Comprehensive Planning Guide (CPG) 101 guidelines.

 

Q: Can I get some grant funding to help pay for your products?

A: Maybe. Our products fall into the emergency management categories of planning, job aids, and exercises. See Grants on the FEMA Compliance page.

 

Q: What jurisdictions and/or agencies are currently using the software?

A: Over 300 cities and counties, coast-to-coast, in over 40 states and in Canada (2010).  Our emergency management products were specifically designed for cities and counties, and hospitals.  A few schools, colleges and private companies have also purchased and modified our products.

 

Q: Will your software export to HTML files for use on local networks, or must the document be converted manually?

A: Our products are in Microsoft Word® 97 and Excel® 97. Microsoft Word® and Excel® 97 (especially newer) have built-in translation for HTML.  However, some formatting must be corrected.  None of the translations are 100 percent translatable.

 

Q: Will your software work with Microsoft Office 2000, on Windows NT or Windows 2000 professional operating system?

A: Our product files can be brought up on any system that has Microsoft Word® and Excel® 97 or newer.

 

Q: What is the date of the last revision to the EOP?

A: May 2008, for the Traditional format.  March 2009, for the ESF format.

 

Q: Will you accept a purchase order?

A: Yes. In fact, we prefer it.

 

Q: I don’t completely understand the difference between the All-Hazard EOP™, EOC System™, EOC SimCell™ and the EOC-X™ products?

A: The products are separate, stand-alone, products, but they are designed to fit together to outfit a complete EOC.  However, each product can be purchased, separately, to meet local needs.

 

Q: I have a laptop computer.  How much memory and power is required?

A: If your computer is powerful enough to run Microsoft Word® 97 and Excel® 97, then it can run our products.

 

Q: As revisions are made to the program, will be we able to download these from your website, or will there be additional cost involved?

A: We send revisions and updates to our customers, FREE, via email or US mail.

 

Q: How many computers may we link together under a single license? Or, do we need separate licenses for each?

A: You may link together as many computers under a single license as the number of computers on your EOC network. You do not need separate licenses for each computer on the network. Generally, the product license is for one jurisdiction EOC.

Q: Is this program network compatible?

A: Yes, our family of EOC products is network compatible because it is not software. Our products are application files written in Microsoft Word® and Excel®. So, if you can open Word and Excel® files on your network, you can open our products.

 

Q: Is the cost as identified per license purchased?

A: The license simply stated is, “one product per Emergency Operations Center (EOC).” For example, if a county buys one of our products, it cannot duplicate the products for cities or towns within the county that have their own EOC’s. If a city and county share an EOC, then only one license is needed. Licensed jurisdictions can produce as many copies for coordinating with supporting agencies as needed. Cost discounts apply for each product bought by the same customer.

 

Q: Is there any trial program we could run to see if this software would be of benefit to us?

A: We do not offer trials…anymore. However, we have a 30-day money back guarantee, as stated on our Internet home page. There is no risk.

 

Q: We have seen software in the past that looked good at the review site, but was a monster to work with.

A: I agree from experience, that new software can be a “monster to work with.” However, Microsoft Word® and Excel® are familiar to most jurisdictions. Our products save you hundreds of hours because we have written our products in Microsoft software for you, including links and mail merges, so you can spend time modifying and polishing the content to fit local needs. The power of Microsoft software automates much of the process to produce the documents you need for plans, procedures and formats.

 

Q: How do your products stack up against computerized systems?

A: Our products are intended to be used in a hard copy form as an essential back-up or primary manual system. In fact, we believe that an effective EOC relies on a manual system at its core, enhanced by the computer.

 

Q: What are the licensing guidelines for the disc?

A: Basically, the license is “one product per emergency operations center.” Copies may be made for coordinating with agencies within the jurisdiction. However, if an agency operates its own emergency operations center, then it must buy its own products. For example, a regional or county EOC may not distribute our products to lower EOC’s for their use.

 

Q: I am located in (state) and with new grant monies becoming available; I am interested in your product for our EOC.  I noticed you have a customer in (state), and am wondering if I may have the contact information for the locality using this product.

A: Thank you for your inquiry. I have about a dozen customers in Virginia, but I have listed the most recent. My All-Hazard EOP™ (ESF), EOC System™ (ESF), and EOC SimCell™ products are fairly new, so I have not accumulated many customers in VA, so far.

 

 

 

All-Hazard Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)™

Q: I need information on how customizable your products are. Can you change Annexes to ESF (emergency support function) and can you add additional ESF’s to the document?

A: Yes. Our EOP is written in Microsoft Word® 97 and Excel® 97, so you can change anything in it. The main Table of Contents is arranged as hyperlinks with corresponding Annex and Tab titles, so you can change FEMA functions to equivalent ESF’s.  In addition to the Annexes provided, there are two additional blank Annexes, complete with Tabs and hyperlinks, ready for the content you want. See Emergency Function Equivalents. (The All-Hazard EOP™ (ESF) product is also available).

 

Q: Are the updates to the EOP free of charge?

A: Yes.

 

Q: What are your suggestions for getting our copy up-to-date and in good working order?

A: Filling in the Resources Tables may be the most important thing you can do. Each Table represents a plan in itself. Filling in a Table can be the Objective of a meeting or workshop. Or, you may want to fill in the EOP Database directly to avoid rearranging columns of data.  Start with the Responsibilities chart. Also, consider an online database, see www.emergency-planning.com/.

 

Q: We don’t have use for hurricane and flooding hasn’t been an issue for us in the past, however do we leave those portions of the plan in the binders?

A: You can overwrite the Titles of Tabs in the EOP, so you can delete Hurricane and type in a new Title. The links will still take you to the correct spot. Use other Tabs as templates.

 

Q: How much info should be in the plan?

A: The EOP should contain enough information to coordinate, not micro-manage, support for responder units in the field. You should list 24/7 telephone numbers for sources of Resources by type or capability of the resource. Lists showing individual resources may be necessary in a catastrophic incident where responder dispatchers are knocked out…but not too likely.

 

Q: I don’t feel like the printed version is of much help to us.  What would be your suggestion for someone who wants a copy of the plan? i.e. mayor and city manager.

A: According to your License, you may make as many copies of the EOP as you like for agencies (mayor included) within your jurisdiction. If an agency wants their own plan, then they need to buy one.  It is best utilized on the computer, but some folks prefer to have a hard copy.

 

Q: I don’t feel it will be of much help to them in a real crisis.

A: The EOP was designed to be used on a computer or on paper. People should use the method that suits them, as long as they actually USE IT. I would have both computer and paper EOP’s available for redundancy.

 

 

Q: Any and all help will be greatly appreciated. I have been trying to update the copy myself and have run into some snags along the way. We have trouble getting other departments to participate in resource gathering, or at least the information.

A: You are not alone. Some jurisdictions invited emergency agencies to a data-entry session with pizza and refreshments. Other jurisdictions have threatened agency heads, but that technique creates enemies. Try the pizza session. Then circulate a letter describing the session, and who showed up, to influential people in your jurisdiction. That may create effective indirect pressure.

 

Q: How are the EOP reference tables updated when they are located in various Annex appendices?

A: Each table the All-Hazard EOP™ Traditional Format product has a mail merge template that automatically strips out the specific resource information you entered in the EOP Database file. This allows you to quickly update any paper copies of EOP tables. The All-Hazard EOP™ (ESF) does not have this feature because most people do not use it, according to our customers.

 

Q: Updating the EOC resource contact information is a problem. How can your EOP product help?

A: If each city dept responsible for an EOC function entered their department information into the EOP database, on floppy disk, you can easily merge them into the master EOP database. The first row of the EOP database contains instructions.

An alternative is to insert a hyperlink into the EOP to existing database files, so departments can avoid rearranging columns in existing department databases.

 

Q: What level of resource detail should go into the EOP?

A: It is too difficult, and therefore impractical, for the EOC to update detailed resource information such as hardware inventories, especially for public works. Instead, list contact information for sources of detailed inventories in the EOC database, along with notes on capabilities and capacities, so the EOC knows what resources it has. During an emergency, the EOC should build an ad-hoc inventory of resources coming into the city’s jurisdiction. That’s the kind of detailed inventory info the EOC should manage. See Article on Level of Resource Detail.

 

Q: Problem modifying Org chart in EOP.

A: Open Microsoft Word®, click Tools, click Macro, click Security, check box for Medium, then click Ok. This will allow you to Enable Macros, so you can use the links. If not, look up “Security” in Microsoft Word® Help for the correct steps to set your computer on Medium security. If you need more help, call us.

 

Q: Does the EOP address damage assessment, debris clearance, removal and disposal and infrastructure restoration (utilities, transportation & critical governmental services) recovery efforts?

A: Not as a continuing function. The EOP gets infrastructure restoration started, only.

 

Q: We have 16 jurisdictions, with a number of military bases, involved in our region planning efforts. Can we buy one EOP for our region?

A: Yes. The EOP license agreement specifies one EOP, per EOC. However, if each jurisdiction in your region wants to use the plan in their own EOC, then they must purchase an EOP, separately.

 

Q: I am interested in knowing more about your Emergency Operations Planning software tools and templates that work with Excel® and Word.

A: None of our products are software; they are application files in Microsoft Word® and Excel® 97 or newer. Some are templates.  The FEMA State and Local Guide 101 (now CPG 101) was used to develop our All-Hazard EOP™ and components of our EOC System™ products. The All-Hazard EOP™ products includes an Excel® spreadsheet designed to calculate all four areas of FEMA cost reimbursement, including personnel benefits, in FEMA’s own format.

 

Q: I am trying to find a program to use for County-wide disaster planning that would help in coordinating the information we have gathered. Then we could make copies for each department in our county to have.

A: Our All-Hazard EOP™ product is designed to help you organize information. You have the option of listing information in each of the EOP Annexes, or listing your information in a central database that is also linked to each of the Annexes.  The central database is an Excel® spreadsheet and can be easily used on any personal computer that has Excel® 97 or newer.

As for making copies for each department, our license agreement is quite liberal. You may make copies for any agency in your jurisdiction. The licensing rule is “one plan purchase for each EOC.”

 

Q: We are in the process of revising our current EOP.  I was hoping that you could suggest someone (or yourself) who could come here and help us revise our EOP.  This would have to include 2-3 visits here, helping with the revisions, checking our drafts to make sure we have everything we need, and then getting the final copy ready to give to the printer. Please give me some names and phone numbers.

A: We do not provide emergency management consulting services. We designed our products so that jurisdictions could avoid the high cost of consultants. However, we will be happy to refer you to consultants who are familiar with our products.

 

Q: Instead of using your EOP guide, we want to use our current EOP (that we have as several WordPerfect files) and revise our current EOP. We also want to add some things like terrorism, etc.

A: You can paste WordPerfect files directly into our All-Hazard EOP™ product. That way you can use the hyperlinks in our EOP product to navigate to your information.

 

Q: We might want to do some type of hazards analysis here for our emergency planning.

A: The basic plan portion of the All-Hazard EOP™ contains tables entitled: Potential Hazards, Vulnerable Critical Facilities, Hazardous Materials Routes, Flood Plains, Critical Resource Dependencies on Other Jurisdictions, Characteristics and Policies of the Emergency Operations Plan Jurisdiction That May affect Response and How. Each table has instructions.  Officials in a jurisdiction can meet and fill in the tables.

 

Q: We plan to spend $5,000 to $9,000 total for someone to help us. This would have to be a price that includes travel.

A: You can spend a lot less by purchasing our products and calling us for advice, which is free to our customers.  You can spend what you save on critical equipment, such as radios.

 

Q: Does the emergency operations plan include all Annexes? The sample on your web site only includes Fire and Rescue.

A: The EOP contains Annexes A-L which includes the eight core functions outlined in the Traditional Functional Format in the FEMA CPG 101. CPG 101 recommends additional Annexes to fit local emergency needs such as damage assessment, search and rescue, aviation operations, etc. Our All-Hazard EOP™ has an additional Annex for law-enforcement. The EOP includes two blank annexes with built-in Tabs and hyperlinks, ready for typing in a custom annex. Most of the additional functions mentioned in FEMA’s State and Local Guide 101 are addressed in Tabs (appendices) for existing Annexes in our EOP. (update: our All-Hazard EOP™ (ESF) also follows FEMA CPG 101.)

We designed this All-Hazard to be simple and flexible which requires some balance between having too many Annexes and not enough. Our solution was to include the core functions from FEMA CPG 101 and provide some room for customization and expansion. Because our EOP products are in Microsoft Word®, purchasers can modify or expand them to fit local situations without having to learn new software.

I recommend that you order the whole plan and see for yourself.  We have a thirty-day money back guarantee, so there’s no risk.  I think you’ll agree that the scope of art plan format is comprehensive and, above all, useful. See FEMA Compliance.

 

Q: I’m not sure if the city will allow a copyright to be placed on the EOP, as the document is both proprietary to and property of the city itself, and city policy does not allow us to endorse products. Do you have any suggestions related to this?

A: We ask that the copyright of Clark Reynolds & Co. remain on any copies of our products that have not been substantially changed or modified.  We are only trying to protect our products from those who would copy them outright and resell them (this has happened only once).  A plan that has been substantially modified would not be copyrightable.

 

Q: How do all city departments tie together as a unit on the EOP?

A: The EOP uses FEMA’s emergency management (traditional and ESF) functions which correspond to most city and county departments.  You can keep EOC coordinators from competing for the same resources by entering resource data in our EOP central database that is reserved for their function.

 

Q: Does the EOP have a Terrorism annex included?

A: Most of our EOP Annexes have Tabs (appendices) with information on Terrorism and other specific hazards. Since our EOP follows FEMA’s plan guidelines, we do not have an EOP annex for specific hazards such as Terrorism.

 

Q: I am wondering how this software works with all of the involved departments in our city. Would each department head have a copy for their computers after I fill in all the information on the master?

A: Yes. You may make as many copies of the plan as you need for the agencies that must coordinate with you.

 

Q: I would like to see a sample of the EOP with enough pages so I can get the gist of how they work together.

A: A working sample of EOP is at our web site entitled, “Sample Functional Annex.” (see a sample of our All-Hazard EOP™ (ESF) product).  It Is the Emergency Public Information annex with appendices (Tabs). You can click the hyperlinks to see how you navigate around the Annex.

 

Q: Do you think an emergency manager should develop the EOP’s alone or with other people? I think it should be done with others but I have known people who believe it should be done alone. I just want to know your opinion and information that can back me up.

A: The EOP product was designed to facilitate group participation! For example, the completion of various tables and Tabs for the EOP basic plan can serve as objectives for entire meetings. In my experience, it is better to start with some kind of template to organize tasks and thoughts, than to gather a committee and fumble over blank sheets of paper. Thomas Jefferson wrote numerous drafts of the Declaration of Independence for others to revise. It is a technique that works. I like to tell people that they don’t have to come up with all the ideas. They just have to be smart enough to recognize the good ones!

Time is also an issue. Some of us have time to spend hours in countless meetings, discussing approaches to writing an EOP. By the time a consensus is reached on concepts and reinventing the wheel, there is little energy (or time) to fill in the information that executes the plan.

Let’s face it. EOP’s are not rocket science. I have found a pattern to EOP’s: a response proportional to the scope of the emergency, usually defined by 3 or 4 activation levels. The tough part is getting the local information into the EOP, so it can be useful during an emergency.

 

Q: I have looked at your web site and I would like further information; I wish to develop a set of guidelines to assist managers to develop evacuation plans & nbsp; for dam break flooding – things they have to think about e.g. examine hydraulic analysis of dam break flood – how long before water cuts access to high ground, how long town will be flooded, what depth is max flood; Determine access routes, capacity, No people/vehicles to be evacuated, what is vehicle capacity of access roads etc; How many people will need assistance – have no transport, need special vehicle – wheelchair, bed etc; What is needed at the shelter location – temporary housing food etc. How to warn people to evacuate, security of evacuated areas, etc. Will your package do all this – it didn’t look as though it would or do you have a tailored package, or can you advise of material by another organization that may assist me in this task?

A: The Hurricane Tabs in our All-Hazard Emergency Operations Plan template address many issues related to Flooding. The Plan also has some reference Tabs for Flooding, but duplicate considerations are linked back to Hurricane Tabs.

Most of the Tabs are tables with categories (boxes) waiting to be filled in. The purpose of the Plan template tables and checklists is to guide emergency managers in collecting and organizing information during planning. Our Plan template is based on US Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines for various emergencies. I am unaware of other plans that address your exact needs. Most plans in the US are tailored by consultants that, frankly, are long on discussion and short on specifics. Obviously, you’ll need topographic maps of your area and advice from a hydrology expert to plot the areas at risk by flood depth. The plot will provide the data needed in most of the Plan tables. The following are some Tables of Content in the All-Hazard EOP™ (traditional format) template for Hurricane (and resulting flooding) with some page numbers:

– Specific Zones to Evacuate 2

– Evacuation Routes 3

– Evacuation Map &; Shelters (Example) 4

– Facilities That Meet the Following Safety Requirements:

– 1. Located outside the Category 4 Storm Surge Inundation Zone

– 2. Located outside the 100 or 500 year flood plain, as deemed appropriate

– 3. Not vulnerable to flooding due to dams, levees or reservoirs that overflow

– Sources of Flood Fighting Equipment; Supplies

– Time Phases

– General Tasks by Time Phase

– Critical Emergency Function Actions by Time Phase

– Assessment of Risk by Hurricane Category

– Jurisdiction Areas at Risk

– Essential Services at Risk

– Special Custodial Facilities at Risk

– Essential Government Resources at Risk

– Facilities at Risk

– Hurricane Hazards

– Wind, Expected Damage

– Storm Surge, Expected Damage

– Wave Action, Expected Damage

– Direction & Control Critical Actions by Time Phase

– Communications & Warning Critical Actions by Time Phase

– Emergency Public Information Critical Actions by Time Phase

– Law Enforcement Critical Actions by Time Phase

– Fire & Rescue Critical Actions by Time Phase

– Health and Medical Critical Actions by Time Phase

– Public Works Critical Actions by Time Phase

– Transportation and Resources Critical Actions by Time Phase

– (to be developed) Critical Actions by Time Phase

– Evacuation Critical Actions by Time Phase

– Reception and Mass Care Critical Actions by Time Phase

– (to be developed) Critical Actions by Time Phase

Each of the Tables has subcategorizes for cross referencing, etc. The All-Hazard EOP™ products are designed to be easily modified. You can change section Titles without breaking links.

 

Q: Have you developed and do you have available a Finance Annex to the All-Hazard EOP™?

A: No. As you know, the only finance info is in Annex H, Tab J. However, if enough jurisdictions ask about a Finance Annex, I’ll do one.

 

Q: We need a confirmation that the EOP Planning Software Package that we purchased from you follows exactly the Traditional Functional Format in the FEMA CPG 101: Guide for All-Hazard Emergency Operations Planning as to content and structure.  This is very important. I am sure that you are very familiar with http://www.fema.gov/rrr/gaheop.shtm guidelines. We will be refining our Regional Infrastructure & Debris Management Response and Recovery Plan and the section that applies to private and public utilities that must follow CPG 101.  I need a statement from you that the software templates that we have follows this. I know that we discussed this previously, but confirmation is needed.

A: I used the Traditional Functional Format in the FEMA CPG 101 to design the EOP templates. The templates you have follow the recommended CPG 101 structure (Basic Plan, Annexes and Appendices (Tabs)), exactly. I consolidated CPG 101 content information recommendations into logical places in the EOP. Many specific CPG 101 recommendations on resources and contacts are incorporated in Table categories throughout the EOP. See FEMA Compliance.

 

Q: Are you able to describe the data import capabilities in more detail?

A: The data import capabilities are defined by Microsoft Word® document Mail Merge. The EOP is set up to strip out info from a specific database filename in Microsoft Excel®. If you have database info in other files, you must first cut and paste the data into the EOP database file. Otherwise, you must set up your own Mail merge document which is not easy.

 

Q: How flexible is the full plan to local modification? Jurisdictional Boundaries?

A: The EOP is intended to be modified. Because the EOP is written in Microsoft Word® and Excel®, software that 9 out of 10 jurisdictions already have, text in procedures can be easily modified. Specific info on resources can be compiled in the EOP Database file and then stripped out to populate the various tables and matrices, automatically. As jurisdiction boundaries change, you can modify the EOP Database and then reprint updated tables.

 

Q: The sample doesn’t seem to integrate ICS?

A: The plan follows FEMA CPG 101 guidelines and is intended to complement jurisdiction emergency operations center functions, not incident command functions. Our EOC System™ products integrate ICS terminology at the General Staff level, so that people in the field interact with similar staff positions at the EOC.

 

Q: If based on our state plan, we have 5 EAL’s (emergency action levels); will your plan accommodate that?

A: Our plan template has 4 emergency action levels in a table form and it would be easy to add another column for a 5th level. 4 levels seemed to be a happy median among various jurisdictions.

 

Q: A reason that I asked about ICS terminology is that, from the sample plan, I didn’t recognize the position “direction & control coordinator” from ICS and it seemed that someone else in the ICS system would be doing what you suggest that he is doing.

A: I understand the confusion regarding the “direction & control coordinator” which is the FEMA function term. Direction & Control is the Operations equivalent under ICS. The reason why I stayed with the FEMA terms is because they seemed more established and consistent. I used ICS general staff positions in our EOC System™ products, mainly so ICS could talk to a counterpart in the EOC. The EOC coordinators are still referred to by their FEMA function terms, Health & Medical, Fire & Rescue, etc. (or ESF)

It’s confusing to have several sets of terms. I chose to avoid the problem of mingling them by keeping them separate, depending on the job in the EOC. See FEMA Compliance.

 

Q: by the way, could there be a conflict with your software and Microsoft NT?

A: To clarify, our EOP is not new software. It is a set of Microsoft Word® and Excel® 97 files. If your Windows NT system has Word and Excel® installed, then it will open the EOP files.

 

Q: I am interested in additional information on your All-Hazard EOP™ product.  Would this product/program be reusable with regard to multiple municipalities being able to utilize it for their planning or is this strictly designed as a per community type of template with a one community use per each CD Rom?

A: Our license applies to the jurisdiction or government that purchases a product from us. Other jurisdictions or governments within the purchasing jurisdiction must purchase separately. In other words, it is “a per community type of template,” as you mentioned in your email.

(Your) County EMA could order multiple EOP templates ( http://www.emergency-planning.com ) on behalf of cities and towns within the County and take advantage of a substantial discount.

 

All-Hazard Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)™ (ESF) ™

Q: Do you have EOP in ESF format that Indiana is going to?

A: Yes. Our All-Hazard EOP™ (ESF) product has been available since March, 2009.

 

Q: I am retired USCG and am in the process of re-writing my EOC staffing model and guidelines.  For quite some time now I have wanted to either shift it to more of an ESF model.– I just got your e-mail and am quite interested in your products and information.  Who in CT has your system so could go talk with them and see.

A: The All-Hazard EOP™ (ESF) and EOC System™ ESF products are new (April 2010), so I do not have customers in CT, yet.

 

Our ESF products follow the NIMS and NRF federal guidelines, enhanced with my military operations experience. I think that you, as retired USCG, would appreciate it. In my research on the Internet, the USCG had the only examples of Incident Action Plans using ICS forms.

 

Our All-Hazard EOP™ (ESF) and EOC System™ ESF are designed to complement each other, or they can stand alone. You can modify our products to fit your local situation. Changes to diagrams and tables, including the EOC Organization Chart in the EOC System™ ESF product, are linked to all binders (or ESF Annexes in the EOP (ESF) product) and automatically update. Checklists were development from actual city and county procedures.

 

The idea behind all our products is to save emergency management time. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have on the telephone and guide you to the relevant pages on our website.

 

Q: If we aren’t using it as a merge file…then I can manipulate the (All-Hazard EOP™ (ESF) database as much as I want to adding columns, etc?

A: Yes. If you do not need the “Tables from Database” merge feature, then you can split columns in the database any way you want, and add Auto Filters to those columns.

Most customers agree with you about the “Tables from Database” feature because the printed table data become obsolete too quickly, in your case, too huge.

 

 

EOC System™

Q: Would the “manuals” for the different EOC job positions only work with your status board system or are they generic enough for ANY EOC marker board system?

A: The manuals are generic and would work with any set of marker boards (displays). Each manual has a reference table that shows responsibilities for marker boards (displays) by EOC staff position. You can easily change the table entries to match your EOC configuration and the titles of your displays. It will copy your changes to each manual. See FEMA Compliance.

 

Q: Does your EOC System™ follow ICS (incident Command System)?

A: Our EOC System™ melds FEMA and ICS function terminology at the General Staff level for a more parallel interface between the EOC and Incident Command Post staff positions. See FEMA Compliance.

 

Q: Does the software support online operations for the EOC (i.e., bring up on Internet and share information) when activated?

A: Our products are in Microsoft Word® 97 and Excel® 97.  Your internet administrator should be able to arrange these files to be shared by several users.

 

Q: Is the EOC in a box, just the communication package?

A: Yes. It is hardware for EOC communications. (see Northmark)

 

Q: Is Northmark still your source for the communication equipment?

A: Yes. I recommend that you contact http://northmarkcommunications.com/eoc.aspx, directly. The designer is a former emergency manager who understands the EOC communications needs at the county and city level.

 

Q: So what’s your bottom line? I have requested the funds from the state for the EOC System™ and will place the order/send payment as soon as I receive the money. I am extremely interested in your EOP products as we are in the process of updating/rewriting ours.

 

A: I think what you mean by “bottom line” is pricing. Many counties have expressed an interest in purchasing our products for cities and towns within their jurisdiction to standardize systems and to take advantage of discounts.

 

Q: What do we need to do upgrade out EOC System™ to the ESF version?

A: If you’re referring to the recent announcement of our new EOC System™ ESF product, it is not an upgrade to the EOC System™, which uses traditional FEMA functions.  The new EOC System™ ESF was designed to accommodate cities and counties that prefer the ESF format. 

 

Here is a comparison of the two products:

1. The wall displays for the EOC System™ and the EOC System™ ESF are identical. 

 

2. The EOC System™ ESF has additional binders because there are more ESF’s than the traditional FEMA functions.

 

3. The EOC System™ ESF lists fifteen ESF’s at the bottom of the message form, instead of the ten traditional FEMA functions. 

 

 

Frankly, the EOC System™ with traditional FEMA functions consolidates more functions and, therefore, is simpler than the EOC System™ ESF.

 

If you want to convert the EOC System™ that you have to an EOC System™ ESF, you would need new staff binders, tent cards and message forms.  Let me know, and we will work something out.

 

Q: Do you have, for the EOC System™ boards, any text definition of each board’s purpose and contents?  Just looking for some justification to quell some users’ arguments.

A: I searched through some of my archived files and CD’s, but could not find my development notes. So, here is what I recall from 1998.

 

Display boards No. 7 and 11 have a short explanation near the headings. The rest are self-evident.

 

Many of the displays were derived from content described in the FEMA State & Local Guide (SLG) 101 (now CPG 101): Display No.’s 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19 and 20. (see list, below)

 

Display No. 18, Medical Patient Status, came from a customer’s insistence, but I think it is too specific for the city or county EOC level. Besides, it also confuses statistics on Display No. 5, Deaths, Injuries, Damage Statistics. However, half of my customers want it, the rest hate it and so, I tell them to discard it.

 

I developed the remaining Displays for the operation of the EOC.

 

All of the Displays were reviewed by several emergency managers in 1998, including the fire chiefs for the small towns east of Oklahoma City that were devastated by the F5 tornado in the late 1990’s. Another emergency manager providing input was from a small town in Missouri on the Mississippi that was destroyed during the floods in the early 1990’s. I can tell you that at least 100 emergency managers have approved the content of the EOC System™ Displays, especially No. 8, Cost Estimate. The few critics are usually non-emergency managers at city and county level, which I find interesting. Maybe people have come to realize that Situation Awareness is important and are now more interested in Displays. I say, hoorah! It’s about time!

 

A handle-full of emergency managers want detailed info on resources, believing that they should be a back-up dispatch center. I disagree completely. If you lose your public safety dispatching, you can’t expect volunteers to pick up the slack; they lack the communications equipment, anyway. I believe city and county EOC Displays should focus on information about the situation and support, and what could affect either. See Article No.5.Level of Detail for EOC Resource Information, http://www.emergency-planning.com/faqs/eoc-articles/ on my website for my rationale, if you’re interested.

 

When I developed these Displays in 1998 there was no evidence of any Display formats for city or county EOC’s. In fact, I have yet (2010) to detect any other versions or alternatives.

 

I have always reminded customers that they can change anything in the EOC System™ files, including the Displays. There are opinions out there about what should be displayed, but no one has ever drawn one for me.

 

I do not believe that I have all the answers and that the EOC System™ Displays are perfect or complete. Some things evolve, but disasters and emergencies seem to remain the same, so I think that FEMA got it right. Still, it’s amazing to me that so little information is available about what should be displayed. I believe that emergency managers know what should be displayed. The other opinions are merely interesting.

 

 

EOC System™ ESF™

 

EOC-X™ Exercise™

Q: Advise how the program (EOC-X™) would serve the (our area) Planning District Commission’s efforts to develop tabletop exercises for hurricanes, hazardous material transportation and fixed facility incidents, tornadoes, floods and WMD terrorism scenarios.

A: Our EOC X exercises generate realistic messages for EOC functional exercises. Separate messages could be pasted into PowerPoint for tabletop exercises. EOC Exercise scenarios can be used as Table Top exercises by using the Message Objectives and Expected Staff Actions to evaluate responses from participants. The goal of the exercise product is to take the pain out of writing messages, so more exercises happen.

However, our EOC SimCell™ product is more realistic because it includes two-way communications and resource coordination practice.

 

Q: How many questions or exercise situations are in the program, and do they cover all functions, not just emergency response?

A: There are up to 90 realistic messages for voice transmission to the EOC for each EOC X exercise product. Each EOC X product has one hazard scenario and messages for each of FEMA’s emergency functions which include ESF: Direction & Control, Communications & Warning, EPI, Fire & Rescue, Law Enforcement, Health & Medical, Transportation & Resources, Evacuation, and Mass Care.  There are also messages from elected officials, the media, and other jurisdictions. A goal of our EOC X products is to engage everyone in the EOC. See FEMA Compliance

 

Q: I appreciate your forwarding information regarding your products, in particular, the exercise program.  I am interested in demonstrating it, if possible.

A: http://www.emergency-planning.com has information on our products. We would be happy to lend you an exercise for 30 days, so you can demonstrate it.

 

Q: How effective is your software in developing small and large scale hurricane and terrorism (bombings or similar scenarios as well as biochemical) tabletop functional exercises around debris and infrastructure management (public works, state, federal and regional, player interactions).

A: Our Hurricane and two Terrorism exercises are not debris management scenarios. The “Hurricane” exercise deals with jurisdiction preparation activities, such as evacuation, before the arrival of a hurricane. The Chemical and Biological exercises are casualty intensive. The other available exercises, Earthquake and Tornado, address the reaction to widespread damage and casualties, peculiar to these hazards. The scope of each exercise can be adjusted to reflect small and large scale events.

 

Q: Are there prototype exercises for Infrastructure Recovery that would apply to public works?

A: We have no prototype exercises for Infrastructure Recovery at this time because they involve long-term operations. We have focused on EOC start-up and immediate response activities because they are critical and they lend themselves to real-time exercises, 2-3 hour long. The problem with a Recovery Exercise, especially for public works, is the long time span required in real-time. However, I believe that realistic Recovery Exercises could be developed. For example, since realistic voice messages are at the heart of our exercises, we could combine several exercises to produce several hundred real-time voice messages over a period of a few days!

 

Q: Do the application files quiz the user to determine exactly who the players will be and circumstances like weather and other factors?

A: I assume you’re referring to the EOC exercises.  A few messages require appropriate notifications, etc. Weather reports provide data for chemical and biological downwind hazards.  The idea is to inject enough messages to allow players to assess the scope of emergency, in geographic terms which converts to populations affected.  Another intent of our EOC exercises is to cause the EOC staff to “fill in any blanks” in their EOP annex with information gathered or generated to request-type messages.

 

Q: How flexible is it to allow the user to design exercises (based upon time allowed for the exercise) for biochemical and chemical events?

A: Message insertion times, objectives, message taxed, and expected actions can be modified on an Excel® spreadsheet.  Time allowed for each exercise can be automatically expanded or contracted, but normally 1.5-3.5 hours is a reasonable range.  Message insertion times spread out, proportionally.

Continued: Although the EOC exercises can be overhauled, the goal of the product was to provide Emergency managers with a quick way to set up (in as little as two hours) and conduct a realistic EOC exercise, not to introduce them to an exercise design process. The exercise design is in the content of the messages.  I have talked to hundreds of emergency managers at city and county level. Most of them neither have the time nor the inclination to design exercises (especially smaller jurisdictions), but they are interested in conducting EOC exercises. Our EOC exercises fill that need.

 

Q: Will the EOC X product allow a person to enter another specific chemical and based upon the chemical and tailor the messages and events around the perimeter?

A: The chemical exercise involves a nerve agent in an enclosed area with potential downwind hazard.  The agent could be changed, but probably with a less terrifying and deadly agent.  Nerve agent seems to be a worst and most likely scenario.

The biological exercise involves the detection and assessment of anthrax over a wide area, another worst and most likely scenario, except for a weaponized smallpox agent which may not be technically possible.  Changing the agent from anthrax would require major message rewrites, but it can be done.  The EOC exercise is a template, so it can be modified.

 

Q: How did you design the EOC exercise?

A: The following may help you understand our exercise products. I have discussed with many Emergency managers the fact that the EOC is managing support coordination and not managing anything at the scene. The Incident Command Post manages the scene.  The EOC is receiving reports, compiling data and refereeing resource request conflicts, anticipating additional support, etc.  Consequently, the general objectives of our exercises are twofold: 1) can the EOC demonstrate situational awareness for top decisions like declarations, evacuations, curfews?, etc.; 2) can the EOC find and coordinate resources? Our exercises do not judge the quality of decisions, which is left to the after action session. Otherwise, designing EOC exercises becomes too complicated and too time-consuming to produce, which results in fewer EOC exercises.

Perhaps the most important design consideration is the fact that information converges on the EOC by voice message. Many EOC’s fail to consider who will enter message data that comes in by voice! The result is inaccurate, misrouted, or missing information which could result in death or property loss.

 

 

EOC SimCell™

Q: Can the sim-cell training package be used as the actual phone communication center if needed?

A: No. The EOC SimCell™ is an EOC operations-based exercise tool for simulating two-way message traffic during an emergency or area disaster. Telephones are not included. I will say that the EOC SimCell™ is a real breakthrough in terms of organizing and conducting realistic EOC exercises, without having to hire consultants or spend a lot of time and resources training exercise controllers. The EOC SimCell™ can be used with any EOC.

 

Q: We are utililizing OpsCenter now, which fully handles all functions in the EOC. We are also interconnecting with WebEOC on the WA side. We may use some charts, but lack the $$ right now.

A: You might find the EOC SimCell™ interesting for your operations-based EOC exercises. See http://www.emergency-planning.com/products/eoc-simcell/. It took a few years to develop and test, but it’s simple and it works!

 

 

EOC Info Tracker™

Q: Do you ever make presentations to emergency managers?  (Our city and county) would like to see your EOC Info Tracker™ software prior to purchasing.

A: Considering our low price, it is not cost effective to make personal presentations. The Sample at http://www.emergency-planning.com shows every EOC Info Tracker™ spreadsheet except for the Cost Summary calculation spreadsheets. Contact us and ask for a presentation CD.

 

Q: Will the EOC Info Tracker™ be expanded in the future?

A: The EOC Info Tracker™ may be expanded in the future, if we can keep it simple and affordable. New worksheets can be easily added. Other links to new spreadsheets for resource inventory management are possible.

 

Q: I received your email and was wondering if this EOC Info Tracker™ could be added to a website. Let me know as we are looking at doing something like that now.

A: EOC Info Tracker™ is a set Microsoft Excel® files linked together. Since they are Excel® files, you can store them on a website and download them to your EOC when needed. The Excel® spreadsheets are not set up to be interactive on-line. A Sample is at http://www.emergency-planning.com. EOC Info Tracker™ works on any shared network, or on a stand-alone PC, in a pinch.

 

Q: Is there any limit to the number of computers on a network? We have 25 PC’s. Will Info Tracker work on it?

A: According to Microsoft Excel® 97 or newer, the answer to the first question is “no.” As long as the users have network access, users can view changes simultaneously when they save their changes to spreadsheets. The answer to the second questions is “yes.” However, an electronic traffic jam results when too many computers are trying to update at the same time. Info Tracker is good for small computer networks of five or fewer computers.

 

HICS System™

Q: I’ve been so impressed and have utilized your EOC and HICS products for our hospital and region that I would like to acquire a complete EOC kit for my community in which I assist with Emergency Management.

A: Thank you for contacting us…and for the kind words. Attached is a Quote for the products you requested.

 

HICS-X Exercise™