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Standards and indicators for emergency preparedness and response

The thirteen standards that a community agency should work towards to become more prepared and resilient in the event of an emergency or disaster are outlined here with tools and resources to support community agencies in completing the standards. Agencies will need to prioritize their plans based on the population served, identified essential services, and existing capacity. Not all standards and indicators will apply to every agency.

These standards were created by The Vulnerable Populations System Coordination Steering Committee and the Operations Workgroup. This committee represents planning and coordinating entities of organizations concerned with emergency planning for vulnerable populations.

Download the complete set of Standards 1-13, (PDF) or individually below:

Who are you going to be for your clients and community when disaster strikes?

  • The agency has thoroughly assessed their services, client/community needs and internal capabilities.
  • The agency has developed a disaster mission statement that identifies the critical services they would provide or the role they would play in an emergency or disaster.
  • The mission is formally adopted by the organization's governing body.
  • Staff, clients, and other key stakeholders are aware of the disaster mission.

Download the complete Standard #1

How will your agency operations adapt to the changing needs of your clients in a disaster?

  • The agency has determined which services will be provided in a disaster and which ones will be discontinued.
  • If the agency is not able to operate, it has a plan for how it will close down.
  • The agency has a process to notify clients if they will not be served at/by the agency.
  • The safety and care of clients and visitors who are at the agency at the time of a disaster are addressed.
  • There is a notification process to communicate changes in services to key partners and disaster responders.

Download the complete Standard #2

Is there a communication plan in place that addresses internal and external contacts if standard methods of communication are unavailable?

  • The agency has emergency, after-hours contact information for all staff.
  • Primary and alternate procedures for communicating with critical staff and key partners are in place.

Download the complete Standard #3

Does each of your staff have a disaster plan and kit prepared that addresses personal and family safety beyond your agency?

  • Staff is identified who are willing, able, and prepared to respond to a disaster.

Download the complete Standard #4

How will you ensure that your agency's emergency plan is accessible and familiar to staff and key stakeholders?

  • Staff is trained on the agency emergency plan and new staff are trained as part of their orientation.
  • The agency emergency plan is accessible to all staff.
  • The agency emergency procedures are regularly exercised and tested.

Download the complete Standard #5

Does all staff have the essentials to survive for 72 hours in the workplace without outside resources/supplies?

  • Staff is familiar with shelter-in-place and lock-down procedures.
  • Food, water and sanitation supplies are easily accessible.
  • All staff know where emergency supplies are located.

Download the complete Standard #6

Is your vital information stored and protected in a secure, accessible location?

  • Critical documents, contact information for key employees and the agency emergency plan are included in the agency Go-Kit.
  • Key staff has a copy of the Agency Go-Kit. At least one copy is stored in an off-site location.
  • Critical client and billing data, if applicable, is backed up in a secure, off-site location, preferably out of state.

Download the complete Standard #7

Are you prepared to operate financially without access to electronic systems?

  • Backup plans enable key financial procedures and payroll processing to continue.
  • Emergency contact information is identified for key vendors and suppliers.
  • Resources are prioritized for procurement.
  • Procedures are in place to track disaster/emergency expenditures.

Download the complete Standard #8

Have you identified community assets that can assist your efforts to serve your clients during times of disruption?

  • The agency has identified and mapped community assets.
  • Conversations have been initiated and necessary agreements are in place.

Download the complete Standard #9

Who are the emergency responders in your area and have you established a connection with them?

  • The names and contact information of emergency providers is gathered and accessible to staff and volunteers.
  • Emergency Service Providers, such as the Local Office of Emergency Management, Public Health and American Red Cross, are aware of the role agency is likely to play in a response or recovery phase of a disaster or emergency.
  • Key agency staff have been identified to develop and maintain relationships with local emergency service providers.
  • Procedures for communicating with local government, including providing situational assessment information are in place.

Download the complete Standard #10

Is staff equipped to perform their ICS roles in the event of an emergency?

  • Staff understands the organizational structure of the ICS.
  • If organizing by ICS, agency leadership staff has taken online courses (FEMA ICS 100 & 200) and the ICS structure is incorporated into training and exercises.

Download the complete Standard #11

Has your building been inspected and deemed safe in the face of various hazard scenarios?

  • The agency has conducted a hazards and vulnerability analysis of facility(ies).
  • The agency has taken action to minimize facility risks to staff and clients.

Download the complete Standard #12

Have you conducted regular evacuation drills?

  • Evacuation routes and exit signs are clearly marked and posted throughout the facility.
  • Staff and volunteers are familiar with the evacuation protocols and know where to rally after evacuating the facility.

Download the complete Standard #13

Resources to help your organization prepare

Social Vulnerability Index Maps:

What is Social Vulnerability?

Every community must prepare for and respond to hazardous events, whether a natural disaster like a tornado or a disease outbreak, or an anthropogenic event such as a harmful chemical spill. The degree to which a community exhibits certain social conditions, including its poverty, car ownership, or number of persons in households, may affect that community's ability to prevent human suffering and financial loss in the event of disaster. These factors describe a community's social vulnerability.

How can the SVI help communities be better prepared for hazardous events?

The SVI provides specific socially and spatially relevant information to help public health officials and local planners better prepare communities to respond to emergency events such as severe weather, floods, disease outbreaks, or chemical exposure.

The Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) helps state, local, and federal planning officials identify the locations of their most vulnerable populations. This work builds on research that examines vulnerability as a social condition, or a measure of the resilience of population groups when confronted by disaster. The SVI includes sociodemographic attributes, such as age, race, and economic status, to identify the relative social vulnerability of populations to the effects of natural or anthropogenic disasters.

Tools from Public Health and the Vulnerable Populations Operations Workgroup
  • Agency Emergency Plan Self-Assessment (PDF)
    Take this assessment to see which standards your agency may want to prioritize.

  • Tabletop Materials for Community and Faith-based Organizations
    The following materials were designed to be used by organizations to test their level of preparedness:
    1. Exercise Guide – read this first! (PDF)
    2. Earthquake Tabletop Template (PowerPoint)
    3. Pandemic Flu Tabletop Template (PowerPoint)
    4. Severe Weather Tabletop Template (PowerPoint)
    5. Personal Preparedness Discussion (PDF)
    6. Improvement Plan Tracker (Excel)

Tools from partner agencies