May 3, 2009

COOP For The Pet Industry

Continuity of Operations Considerations for Animal Shelters AND Animal Day Care Facilities

by Ines de Pablo
Based on FEMA Continuity of Operations Self Assessment Tool

SVO and C = Staff, volunteers, officers and clients
COOP = Continuity Of Operations Plan

Whether you are a county animal shelter, a non profit animal shelter animals OR a private daycare/boarding facilities - animals are in your care. Their health and safety depends on you. In the case of the private facilities clients rely on your ability to keep pets safe.
No matter if you live or work in a flood, wildfire, tornado, hurricane, earthquake or in less hazardous areas you may still be at risk for smaller scale emergencies such as electrical, tank, forest fires, gas leaks, arson, criminal activity.

Some of these emergencies can be mitigated against for sure. But should the worst case scenario happen, what can you do NOW to ensure that your staff, volunteers, officers & animals remain safe? Do you have a viable evacuation plan? How do you know its viable? Have you tested and rehearsed that plan? How will your staff know what to do? How can you keep operating after the event?

Your SVO rely on your continuity of operations should there be an emergency in, at or near your facilities. How quickly your shelter or business can get back to business after a natural or man made disaster depends on emergency planning done today. Start planning now to improve the likelihood that the animals you care can survive and that you your staff, volunteers, officers and animals can recover.

The following form provided by Ready.Gov is a starting point
However we strongly recommend that you also ask yourself and plan for the following:

What hazards have you identified? Consider & prepare for of accidental (fire, gas leak,etc), nature (tornado, flood, etc) & man made hazards (terrorist or criminal activity).

What is essential for continuity of operations?
What are our priorities? (define)
What tools and systems need to function in order for the facility to operate?
Who is essential personnel? How do we communicate with them? What are their tasks? What is the contingency plan should essential personnel become unable to perform their tasks and duties?
Who is in charge at our facility?

Can we operate from alternate facilities? What are these facilities?
How far are they from our facility? How do we communicate with them during/immediately following emergencies? What is their COOP?
How many animals, staff and equipment can they accommodate?
Who knows how to access that facility? What is your transportation plan for goods, personnel, animal and equipment? Who has a map? Where can they get maps?
Who is in charge at that facility? What are their policies?
What equipment do they have that we can use? How can we get more equipment?
What is our exit strategy? How do we redeploy animals, SVO&Cs, records and equipment to the primary operating facility and return to operations at primary facility?

How do we notify our SVO&C of our relocation? (essential & non essential)

How can we preserve our vital records? (business, financial, personnel, veterinary, etc) Should our primary databases and systems fail or get destroyed, what is our backup plan? Is this information safeguarded elsewhere? How can we access it? How can we share records with alternate facility? What can we share?

How, when and under what circumstances will we implement our COOP? (note that I include more than 1 plan) How is implementation and termination of COOP communicated?

How will we account for personnel prior to, during and after the event?
Who & how many people will be given access to the emergency staff contact information? How is this information safeguarded?
Should something happen and all primary records be destroyed how will we communicate with staff, volunteers, officers and clients?
How do we communicate? What do we communicate? And when? Who takes priority?

How long are SVOs expected to remain on duty? How do you rotate personnel?

How often do we run table top exercises? What is your review process?
An last but now not least how do you communicate with the media?
If you are not proactive and don't provide them with truthful information they will make it up! Every time!Do NOT Ever underestimate the power of speculation.
US Fire Administration: Continuity of Operations
Ready.Gov Business: Plan to Stay in Business

The following video shows a violent gas leak explosion that occurred on Thursday May 7 at the Penn Mar shopping center in Forestville just before 1:00 p.m. All businesses had been evacuated. The people on the video are firefighters responding to the scene.
This video is shot a firefighter engine camera.

Yes gas leaks happen all to often! They can happen in any community and at all times. If your facility includes pets or children please make sure to have a comprehensive evacuation plan that includes evacuation scenarios that only allow for minutes to get out.

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