|The basic emergency management responsibilities of local governments, state agencies and public officials are outlined in Chapters 418 and 433 of the Texas Government Code (The Texas Disaster Act), Executive Orders of the Governor Relating to Emergency Management, and Title 37, Part I, Chapter 7 (Emergency Management) of the Texas Administrative Code.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBILITIES:
Each local or inter-jurisdictional emergency management agency is required to prepare and keep a current, NIMS compliant, emergency management plan which addresses preparedness, response and recovery. The plan must contain clear and complete statements regarding the emergency responsibilities of local agencies and officials. The plan must meet the state planning standards promulgated by TDEM. The plan must also allow for integration of the National Response Framework Emergency Support Functions, when activated.
Elected leaders are legally responsible for ensuring necessary and appropriate actions are taken to protect people and property from the consequences of emergencies and disasters. When disasters threaten or strike a jurisdiction, people expect local officials to take immediate action to address the problems that are created. An emergency management plan provides a framework to respond to any emergency situation, whether it occurs unexpectedly or develops slowly.
An emergency management plan outlines concepts of operations for coordinated efforts by local officials, emergency responders, other governmental departments, volunteer groups, and other individuals or agencies to perform emergency functions. It has been repeatedly demonstrated pre-planning emergency operations saves time in getting operations underway, facilities integrated effort, and helps ensure essential activities are carried out efficiently when an emergency plan exists and local officials and emergency responder are familiar with it, they have a common guide for action.
A properly prepared emergency management plan provides a concise statement of the emergency responsibilities of local officials, departments, and agencies, as well as descriptions of the emergency functions volunteer groups, industry, schools, hospitals, and other entities agree to perform so those individuals who must respond to an emergency have a clear understanding of what they are supposed to do and what others will do.
WHO SHOULD HAVE A PLAN:
1. Chapter 418 of the Government Code provides that each county shall maintain a local emergency management program or participate in an inter-jurisdictional program that serves the entire county or inter-jurisdictional area, except for those cities that have established their own programs.
2. Cites may establish their own local emergency management program. As a general rule, cities that do not have a 24-hour warning point or operate their own fire protection and law enforcement programs, or control such programs, should participate in an inter-jurisdictional program with their county. Cities that have established their own local emergency management program should prepare their own emergency management plan.
3. Chapter 418 of the Government Code provides that each local and inter-jurisdictional agency shall prepare and keep current an emergency management plan for its area providing for disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.
The following planning concepts are material to the development of a comprehensive local emergency management plan:
1. Planning should be based on the general rule that an emergency should be met at the lowest and most immediate level of government with a response capability appropriate to the situation. In most cases, the first responders will be agencies from local governments that must manage the situation with local resources. If local 2-4 resources are inadequate, unavailable, or inappropriate to address the emergency situation, assistance may be requested from the State.
2. Planning should be based on an all-hazards approach. This approach is based on the fact that most of the functions performed during an emergency are not hazard-specific. The tasks that must be performed to evacuate local residents because of flooding are similar to the tasks that must be performed to evacuate residents because of a hazardous materials spill. By following this concept, planners can avoid spending substantial time and effort developing detailed individual plans for every specific hazard.
3. The written plan and its components should explain the overall approach of the jurisdiction to emergency situations, define roles and responsibilities and provide guidance for local officials and response forces to follow.
4. Base your planning on facts and reasonable assumptions.
5. Place the greatest emphasis in planning on those hazards that pose the greatest risk. The results of your local hazard analysis should be your guide for prioritizing your efforts.
6. Plans must clearly assign tasks, allocate resources, and establish accountability.
7. Planning should address the use of local government and other local governmental organizations (such as school districts) resources and those of the private sector (volunteer groups active in disaster, business and industry). But, do not assume assistance from non-governmental organizations unless you have coordinated in advance with those organizations.
8. No radical organizational changes are needed to develop a comprehensive emergency management plan. The same departments or agencies that are responsible for certain functions on a day-to-day basis (such as the fire service and law enforcement) typically retain those responsibilities during an emergency. However, organizational arrangements for emergency operations should provide for the integration of state and federal response elements and volunteers during major emergencies.
9. The development of written plans is not an end in itself and having a written emergency plan does not guarantee that emergency operations will be effective. It is always better to have a plan and not need it, than need a plan and not have it.