Tactical Response Planning for Natural Disasters and Serious Emergencies for Spill and Emergency Plans

Tactical Response Planning for Natural Disasters and Serious Emergencies for Spill and Emergency Plans

Your facility might include specific tactical response procedures or plans as part of the Spill Prevention, Countermeasures, and Control (SPCC) Plan, Emergency Response Plan, Emergency Action Plan, or as a stand-alone Incident Action Plan. A tactical response is a response by a specially trained and equipped tactical team to an incident that may exceed the capabilities of conventional responders. Don’t wait for severe weather, a natural disaster, or serious emergency to occur before you revisit the emergency planning information contained in these plans. Now is the time to review these strategies and start planning for events.

What are the objectives of tactical response planning?

First, let’s look at what constitutes a natural disaster or serious emergency:

  • Hurricane
  • Tornado
  • Severe storm/Microburst
  • Earthquake
  • Major fire
  • Power failure (widespread)

What emergency planning does your facility have in place should one of these incidents occur? Things to consider:

  • Initiate the notifications for your emergency coordinators.
  • Brief the emergency response team(s) on the situation and contact any outside agencies (i.e., police, fire department, local emergency planning commission).
  • Review operating procedures, facility shut down procedures, emergency power kill switch procedures, and tank liquid level requirement procedures.
  • Review procedures on how to close drains and valves where oil may be able to escape from tanks or equipment.
  • Ensure that communication is operative at the facility and that back communication is in place should things like radios and telephones go down in a power outage.
  • Remove on-site facility personnel as needed to ensure safety (shelter in place in deemed area, upwind, muster point, off-site, etc.) and lock gates/doors to ensure no unauthorized entry to the facility if facility will be unattended.
  • Review state and federal notification lists and where these contacts are posted at your facility.
  • Designate who will prepare start notifications and reports that summarize the emergency events and precautionary tactics undertaken, which can be turned over to relief efforts.

Tactical response planning should be part of emergency preparedness and, to the extent feasible, help your facility achieve a successful and safe incident response. Primary objectives of tactical response planning include:

  • Allow response personnel to prepare for and safely respond to incidents.
  • Develop procedures and techniques for a spill response, including drills and exercises.
  • Identify potential equipment, manpower, and resources needed for the facility.
  • Improve overall regulatory compliance efforts.

What are some preparations to consider prior to a natural disaster?

Companies should prepare for natural disasters before they occur and implement the following:

  • Clearly identify and communicate assigned roles and responsibilities:
    • Establish all emergency contacts and communicate responsibilities in preparation for, rather than during, a response to an incident.
    • Work with local and state organizations to identify what their roles and responsibilities are in the event an incident occurs.
    • Facilitate communication between facility personnel and local responders and organizations to establish relationships before incidents occur.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice! Practice to ensure proper and effective execution of emergency response situations. Conduct drills and exercises routinely and allow for questions to be proposed, deficiencies to be addressed, and fine-tuning of procedures.

Tactical response planning allows for faster action response and reinforces cleanup strategies to minimize risk. It focuses on critical locations of the facility most likely to cause the greatest hazardous impact or risk in a natural disaster or serious emergency.

Companies should consider the following for tactical response planning:

  • Appropriate facility diagrams and maps
  • Location of potential staging area(s)
  • Shelter-in-place areas
  • Off-site relocation area(s) for responders, if needed
  • Hazardous materials located on-site and characteristics of those materials
  • Driving directions to the site, hospitals, and off-site muster location(s) from main roads
  • Site-access specifications
  • Site description and applicable waterways
  • Site-specific response procedures
  • Critical response information that may be helpful to responders
  • Identification of equipment and resources
  • Potential obstacles that may hinder response implementation or site access
  • Planning scenarios, including worst case
  • Areas of responsibility and liability
  • Health and safety guidelines

Now is the time to review your response plans or develop specific tactical response plans that focus on individual incidents. Practice is key to preparedness. Drills and exercises will play a key role in preparing for such situations.

Questions on updating or creating your plan? EHS Support has worked closely with many companies on emergency preparedness, SPCC plans, and incident and spill prevention measures. If you need assistance addressing tactical response measures in your planning process, contact Amy Bauer, Amanda Bayne, or Sara Hlatky.

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