EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — August 22, 2007

The New Emergency Management Standards
from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP)

Nicole Ishmael
Executive Director
Emergency Management Accreditation Program

Paul Rasch
EMAP Standards Subcommittee Chair
EMAP Technical Committee Member

Avagene Moore
EIIP Moderator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our home page at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! Amy Sebring, my associate, and I are pleased that you are here today. We appreciate Lori Wieber being here as well - Lori helps us with each session. Thank you, Lori.

Our subject today is The New Emergency Management Standards from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP). We are very pleased to introduce our speakers today.

Nicole Ishmael was recently appointed EMAP Executive Director and she will provide an introductory overview for us today. Nicole has been with EMAP since 2003 and brings a broad background in public policy and strong interest in interstate, multi-jurisdictional, and interagency cooperation to the EMAP program.

EMAP Standards Subcommittee Chair Paul Rasch is also with us to provide the update on the standards revision process. Paul also serves as the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Region 3 Coordinator. During his tenure with IEMA, he has deployed to virtually every disaster the Agency has been involved with, and has led teams to Florida and Mississippi.

Please take the time to read Nicole's and Paul's bios and links to related materials on the background page after our session. Please help me welcome our speakers to the EIIP Virtual Forum! Thanks for being here today, Nicole and Paul. I now turn the floor to you, Nicole.


Nicole Ishmael: Ishmael: Thanks so much Avagene and Amy. It is good to be here with everyone. Thank you all for participating today to learn more about EMAP and the new standards.

As many of you may know, the Emergency Management Accreditation Program began in 1997 by a group of state and local emergency management practitioners from organizations such as IAEM, NEMA, FEMA, DOJ, USDOT, National League of Cities, National Governors Association and others began work on standards and an assessment and accreditation process for state and local emergency management program. EMAP evolved from that work and now provides a quality assessment mechanism to evaluate the structure a jurisdiction has in place for preparing for and responding to disasters and emergencies.

EMAP’s mission is to foster excellence and accountability in EM and HS programs by establishing standards applied in peer-review process.

EMAP views emergency management broadly to include all stakeholders that have a role in emergency management- much more than just an emergency management office. There are three components to the EMAP process: self-assessment, on-site assessment, and assessment report which goes through a committee and commission review.

A key piece of EMAP is the on-site assessment to verify compliance by EMAP trained assessor teams. EMAP sends a team to a program site for one work week to review documentation against standards and conduct interviews and observations to verify compliance. EMAP currently maintains an assessor cadre of over 300 trained individuals. Programs should have knowledgeable personnel available for interviews, explanations, additional documentation to support the team’s work. Experienced emergency managers are trained to perform a peer review of a candidate program’s compliance documentation against the EMAP Standard.

EMAP has conducted 52 baseline assessments for state and territorial governments in the United States as part of a cooperative agreement with the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.

EMAP has conducted the first regional pilot assessment of the National Capital Region. The standards and assessment process are scalable and at this time can be used for any size entity for self-assessment and strategic planning purposes.

Some key milestones for EMAP include thirteen jurisdictions who have achieved fully accreditation with EMAP: Arizona, D.C., East Baton Rouge Parish (La.), Florida, Illinois, Jacksonville/Duval County (Fla.), Massachusetts, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Utah and Virginia. Six jurisdictions are conditionally accredited: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, San Diego County (Ca.), and Tennessee.

I now turn the floor to Paul.

Paul Rasch: Good morning all. We appreciate the opportunity to be here today. I will apologize in advance if I am a little slow in keeping up, but I am presently on field deployment and am using a tablet computer and dial-up connection. Combined with the fact that I'm technologically impaired to begin with I suspect it is not a good combination!

The EMAP Standard has undergone six revisions since the original version was published in 2001; these have primarily consisted of language clarifications and additions/changes of minor nature, but were necessary to keep the standard a robust and meaningful document for state and local government.

EMAP is a developing program and as it has matured it has been determined that a logical next step for the program is to seek organizational recognition through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a standards writing body. This decision, coupled with EMAP’s commitment to excellence, belief that a standards document must constantly change and evolve to maintain relevancy, and the feedback from our state and local government stakeholders gained through almost ten years of conducting program assessments have caused the EMAP Commission and committees to undertake a thorough review and revision of the current EMAP Standard.

EMAP will release the inaugural edition of its standards entitled Emergency Management Standards by EMAP in mid September. Several stakeholders from National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), National Governors Association (NGA), The Council of State Governments (CSG), International City/County Management Association (ICMA), National Association of Counties (NACo) and other public and private sector partners came together over the last several months to create the standards, separate and independent of the NFPA 1600. These standards are written to serve as a set of criteria for defining a quality emergency management program and to be a tool for strategic planning and improvement efforts for government programs across the country.

Key components of preparedness and response are addressed, including multi-disciplinary coordination, continuity of operations and continuity of government planning, alternate operating facilities, and interoperability. The standards are organized in 15 program areas: Program Management; Finance and Administration; Laws and Authorities; Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Consequence Analysis; Hazard Mitigation; Incident Prevention; Planning; Incident Management; Resource Management and Logistics; Mutual Aid; Communications and Warning; Operations and Procedures; Facilities; Training; Exercises, Evaluations and Corrective Actions; and Crisis Communications, Public Education and Information.

The feedback from key government stakeholders in the process as a result of the peer assessments has been of inestimable value in the revision process. This input has allowed the Standards Committee to address and eliminate any areas of perceived ambiguity in the Standard and led to a cleaner and more streamlined document. The overall number of individual standards has been reduced, numerous individual standards which had significant areas of overlap have been combined, and it was determined that a better and more appropriate flow could be achieved by moving several items and chapters which had been added during previous revisions to different areas.

An example of a revision as a direct result of input is an increased emphasis on the review of Standard Operating Procedures as supplements to Emergency Operations Plans. Experience has demonstrated almost an equal division between jurisdictions with a single, all-inclusive plan and those utilizing a briefer plan in combination with extensive SOPs. So long as these are cross-referenced and all necessary topics are addressed, programs of equal strength result and EMAP cannot see any reason not to accept either approach.

Another example of a revision as a result of stakeholder input is the inclusion of a communications plan as a requirement under the new standards. Previous versions of the Standard have implied this need; it is now specifically required and is in keeping with and supportive of the need for effective communications and the current emphasis on interoperability.

EMAP has changed Impact Analysis to be Consequence Analysis throughout the standard, which is more consistent with government usage. A major revision in the new standards is the inclusion of plans in the appropriate program chapter. For example, the mitigation planning standard has moved from the planning section to the hazard mitigation section. This allowed for a standard to be included in the planning section that deals specifically with planning concepts a program should consider for each plan developed.

The previously titled Direction, Control and Coordination chapter has been renamed Incident Management. This section of the standards includes NIMS terminology such as modular organization, unified command, multi-agency coordination, span of control, etc. EMAP also included a standard in this section that ensured all personnel with emergency response roles would receive training on the jurisdiction’s incident management system.

Finally, a careful analysis was done of the linkage between the various individual standards. Assessors and program representatives were able to point out a number of instances where a deficiency in one individual standard area automatically caused a deficiency in another- what is known as the cascading affect. While all of the components of a successful emergency management program must be cohesive in nature, and while many program facets are by definition dependent upon and inseparable from others, a few instances were found where the previous EMAP Standard included linkages that were truly of questionable value. These linkages were not necessary in actual practice and did not truly serve to strengthen a program. These have been eliminated, and users of the new Emergency Management Standards will find the number of areas where "cascading" is apt to occur have been reduced.

As you can see a great deal of restructuring and revisions have taken place over the last year for EMAP. We encourage everyone to remain engaged and provide feedback to EMAP on the process, standards, etc. You can download the standards on the website at www.emaponline.org once they are available. Thanks for taking the time today and for showing an interest in the program.

That concludes my formal remarks. Nicole and I are available to take your questions. I now turn you back to our Moderator.

Avagene Moore: Thank you for a fine presentation, Nicole and Paul. (Paul, you were fine!) I am sure our audience has questions.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Ed Kostiuk: Paul, you stated "standard in this section that ensured all personnel with emergency response rolls would receive training on the jurisdiction's incident management system." What type of training? On-line or classroom instruction or a combination of both?

Paul Rasch: As a standards setting organization, EMAP attempts to ensure the function is addressed. The methodology is left to the individual program or jurisdiction.

Joe Thornton: Effective date?

Nicole Ishmael: The standards will take in effect in mid September after final approval by the EMAP Commission.

Jim O'Brien: Do either of you foresee this being a condition of receiving EMPG funding?

Nicole Ishmael: EMPG guidance currently suggests that programs could use EMAP assessments to develop their work plans. EMAP does not support tying of funding to a condition of EMAP accreditation or not.

Isabel McCurdy: Hi Paul. When do you anticipate the standards to be online?

Paul Rasch: That has been a popular question. We intend to post them on-line immediately after approval/publication.

Ryc Lyden: Nicole, I came in shortly after you started. Where is Minnesota in the process?

Nicole Ishmael: Hi Ryc. Minnesota has completed a baseline assessment as part of the NEMB-CAP program EMAP completed with DHS/FEMA.

Robert Cullins: Are there any plans to conduct workshops on the new standards? Perhaps as pre- or post- conference sessions at IAEM or other partners' conferences?

Nicole Ishmael: Good question. Yes we intend to offer workshops to both programs as well as our assessor cadre to educate on the new standards and any changes. We also plan to hold refresher training courses for the assessors and expanded accreditation manager training for programs.

Pat Harkness: Paul, you mentioned "planning concepts for each plan developed." Does the EMAP allow for or recognize an entity that has developed an "All Hazards" approach, or must the entity (in order to pass the 'test') have to produce separate plans for each category of hazard identified?

Paul Rasch: EMAP supports and encourages the all-hazards approach, but does wish to see that each hazard identified for the jurisdiction is specifically addressed. The manner of plan organization is left to the program. We are more concerned with complete content.

Pat Harkness: Is the standard endorsed by Congress, the Senate, Homeland Security, or the International Association of Emergency Managers? One or more or all?

Nicole Ishmael: EMAP and the standards are endorsed by both IAEM and NEMA (both organizations serve as members of the governing body of EMAP).

Ryc Lyden: I think that the work you've done here is outstanding. Do you see there being any influence on NFPA 1600, and finding its way to the private sector?

Paul Rasch: The EMAP Standard and NFPA 1600 will likely both continue to travel parallel paths, as the common root of both is the Capability Assessment for Readiness (CAR). Our standard would certainly be applicable to both the public and private sectors, but we are choosing to direct it more to the unique needs of government.

William Cummings: Nicole or Paul or both! Do you have personal views as to the recommended end state for EMAP? Is the current voluntary adoption and/or compliance adequate, or should there be additional incentives? Financial or regulatory?

Nicole Ishmael: Great question and one that comes up frequently. EMAP currently sees the future as still on a voluntary status. We encourage programs to use the standards and assessment tools to build quality EM programs; however, we do look to partner with industries and organizations that could provide incentives to accredited programs in the future.

Pat Harkness: Is there a list of "who is who" and where their home area is, in the cadre of assessors?

Nicole Ishmael: Yes. There is a section on the website that lists the active members (individuals that have served on at least one assessment) with their home organization. [http://www.emaponline.org/?55]

Kathleen Donahue: The Incident Management revision will be a welcome addition. I have had some questions from local EMs regarding accreditation and the associated cost. What is the estimated cost, and can these be factored into the EMPG applications?

Nicole Ishmael: Hi Kathleen. First, yes EMPG money can be used for assessments. The costs vary depending upon the jurisdiction's population and size. The accreditation fee is based on the population of the program and ranges from $2,000 to $6,500.

Ed Kostiuk: A follow up to Robert's earlier question on training. Perhaps a regional training workshop?

Nicole Ishmael: Great idea. We could certainly look to do that.

Isabel McCurdy: Paul, do you have any Canadian input or are these standards strictly American?

Paul Rasch: Isabel, we have had Canadian input, have trained over 30 Canadian Assessors, and hope to conduct a pilot program there shortly.

Nicole Ishmael: Isabel, we actually have several assessors that were just training in Toronto in the room with us today. Hello Steve.

Joe Thornton: Paul, on the issue of "procedures," is there a definition or examples?

Paul Rasch: Good question, one that we have discussed at length. We believe that there needs to be, and it will be formalized before/included with the standard release.

Bob Fletcher: EMAP has taken on the difficult challenge of standards compliance and validation, not always eagerly embraced, but absolutely necessary for ensuring that standards are taken seriously. I believe that this has been the missing element in past assessments at all levels--accountability. Now, the difficult challenge of assessing operational performance. Do you think EMAP should take this one on?

Nicole Ishmael: Bob, EMAP has currently pre-identified 11 standards that when released we will ask programs to demonstrate compliance as well as the written documentation. We hope to explore and finalize procedures on how this will impact on-site assessments at the next Technical Committee meeting next week.

William Cummings: Nicole or Paul or both! Could EMAP compliance or integration be of assistance to NGO's?

Nicole Ishmael: Yes. We believe the standards will have EM and business continuity applications for NGOs and might be particularly interesting for NGOs that deal with governments on a regular basis.

Rebecca Clark: Paul, what date in September is this scheduled for approval?

Paul Rasch: That would be following the EMAP Commission Meeting on August 30th.

Luke Meyers: Do you have a list of best practices that have been compiled from the assessments? [Paraphrased. Original question was lost from the transcript.]

Nicole Ishmael: Luke, yes we do. We do have a list and are preparing to integrate model plans and best practices into the new online assessment tool when it is completed.

Amy Sebring: Paul, how long will the ANSI process take do you know? I believe ANSI is participating in an international effort on emergency management standards under ISO. Will EMAP be able to participate in that process?

Paul Rasch: The ANSI process will take several months. Our goal is accreditation by January 2008. Our efforts to date have been focused on that and have not included participating in the ISO initiative. We would certainly be willing to participate in any endeavor that results in a raising of the bar, and have had direct dealings with ISO in the past.

William Cummings: Nicole or Paul or both! What single thing could the Federal government do now to assist in EMAP adoption in your opinion? Market?

Nicole Ishmael: Good question. I believe marketing is the key as well as supporting the state and local programs using EMAP to assess their preparedness. EMAP continues to work with our federal partners to ensure we are assessing the right elements and that efforts are aligned.

Amy Sebring: My recollection is the EMAP standard had (and continues to have) a requirement for a stakeholder advisory group. Nicole, have there been any stellar best practices in the past on that requirement that you can cite? My impression is that this is a weak area both on the state and local levels.

Nicole Ishmael: Amy, there is a requirement in Chapter 4 of the standards to have an advisory committee. This standard has been interesting over the years for state and local programs to meet. We have had several of our accredited programs that have shown great efforts for including a number of key stakeholders as well as the private sector in this committee capacity.


Avagene Moore: That is all the time we have today. Thank you, Nicole and Paul, for your time and effort and for the good information! Keep up the good work!

Paul Rasch: Thank you again for the opportunity.

Nicole Ishmael: Thanks everyone for the opportunity to discuss EMAP and the standards.

Avagene Moore: If I may before we close, if you would like to be alerted to future Virtual Forum topics and are not on the EIIP Mail List, please subscribe by going to the EIIP Virtual Forum homepage.

We have one new Partner this week - HAZUS.org http://Www.hazus.org that (quoting from the Web site) "supports the HAZUS user community across the country, the ultimate on-line resource for everything HAZUS." The EIIP POC for this resource is Richard Davies. Welcome, HAZUS.org.

I would also like to acknowledge quite a few Partner POCs online with us today - I won't list all of you because I might omit/miss someone. Great to see you all here! We love seeing our Partners involved. If interested in partnering with the EIIP, please see the "Partnership for You" link.

Again, the transcript of today's session will be available later this afternoon and a notice will go to our Mail List when it is posted.

Please join us next time, Wednesday, September 12, when Dr. Joanne McGlown will be with us to discuss NIMS compliance for hospitals and healthcare facilities. Mark your calendar!

Thanks to you, the audience, for your presence and participation. The EIIP Virtual Forum is adjourned!