Emergency planning should be a regular part of day-to-day operations so that when an emergency occurs a law enforcement organization is prepared to respond. It is designed to prepare an organization for a major event with the potential to cause injury or death, destroy property, impact life, or cause an extreme financial burden. These emergencies include natural disasters, man-made events, and civil disturbances. Emergency planning starts with a hazard vulnerability analysis, which identifies events that could occur and their potential impact. High impact events seriously burden existing organizational assets and can require the need for additional support from resources outside the immediate area.
Assets are human, fixed, or expendable, and accurate information about the viability of these assets in an emergency is critical to emergency planning.
Human assets relate to people who may require training and certifications.
Fixed assets must be accounted for and maintained properly to ensure they are functional.
Expendable assets may be in storage for extended periods and may have expiration dates. Their sustainability for use must be considered.
These assets--whether human, fixed, or expendable--are only useful in an emergency if the incident command staff has accurate and timely data about their functionality in real time. The status of this information must be current and known to the planners.
When used for an event assets may be depleted. Human assets require rest and rehabilitation while fixed and expendable assets may require maintenance replenishment or replacement. In an incident command system, the logistics section chief is charged with the responsibility for ensuring the functionality of these assets. This is only accomplished by delegating responsibilities and utilizing an effective asset tracking system that identifies the readiness availability of deployable, functional assets to support the operation.
Eventually, the emergency will move from a response phase into recovery and rebuilding and ultimately the organization will return to normal operations. During the emergency resources that were damaged, destroyed, or expended must be accounted for and replenished-- either for normal operations or in preparation for another emergency. Usually this is accomplished via direct funding or grants. Accurate documentation that supports resource usage must accompany repair and replacement requests.
A person (or people) within the organization is responsible for these logistics. This responsibility begins before the emergency and continues until, and oftentimes after, a return to normal operations. Asset accountability is necessary when an organization is planning for an emergency, and an effective asset management system can help an organization accomplish this. In smaller organizations or departments , a hand-printed record or data spreadsheet may be sufficient, but in larger ones a more detailed software solution is usually necessary to manage assets and resources. Having a process and tool in place to document how resources were expended in an emergency is just as necessary as the need for assets to be accurately accounted for and maintained before an emergency.
Asset management is a critical component of emergency planning and continues throughout all phases of the emergency and beyond.