3 Emergency Management Tasks to Automate in 2023
Whether you're just starting your career as director of emergency management or you have years of experience, it's important that you continually work to improve resilience levels in your Emergency Management Agency (EMA). One key method for building resilience is to reduce administrative burden by automating regular tasks.
Just as with ourselves, fostering resilience in our teams is a matter of helping them build skills and a mindset that supports a hopeful, solution-oriented response to obstacles, challenges, and unanticipated change.
Erika Andersen, Leader Readiness Consultant and Author of Change from the Inside Out.
Leading through change requires an understanding of resilience and healthy ways to achieve it. Every emergency and disaster is ultimately a test of your ability to respond to change.
Let’s leverage technology to foster resilience by removing emergency management “chores” from our plates.
There are many regular events and tasks that emergency managers need to keep up with, such as:
- Status reports prepared by the agency and submitted to the committee
- Agency audits
- Plans (such as schedules for next year’s training and exercises)
- Equipment maintenance
- Team certification and license renewals
The key is to be consistent and ensure that when you see the opportunity for a recurring task you set that as a proactive alert. Once you add a reminder to your emergency management software, you can trust that the platform will remind you to take action at the right time. That way, you free up mental resources and make more time for strategic planning and creative problem-solving, rather than trying to keep up with endless important dates, tasks, and spreadsheets.
A great example of where reminders can help is when maintaining your emergency management organization’s equipment. Inspections can be scheduled, expiry dates can be tracked, checks can be logged, and repairs can be assigned. A cloud-based asset management solution like D4H Equipment Management is easily scalable and ensures that your team will be notified when action is required.
Another great example of a repetitive task that can be automated is managing the administration of your personnel’s training and qualifications. With D4H Personnel & Training you can automatically determine who is missing qualifications based on the expectations for their role, and forecast expiry dates will quickly and easily tell you when the next course is required.
With a proactive system in place, your emergency management agency can grow, without adding more work to keep up with regular maintenance reminders.
After reminders have been set, how are you going to receive them? You’ll get dashboard notifications and email notifications, you can also embed the schedule in your personal calendar for easy reference.
Now that we have a memory cue set for our upcoming tasks, let’s save even more time by utilizing templates to help track information during an emergency. Preparing status board templates in advance to capture information relating to road closures, critical infrastructure, and shelters can help you save valuable time.
- Prepare what you need to track in advance
- Ensure information is captured in a well-structured way
- Create a common operating picture during the emergency
Example: Tracking Shelters
In a regional emergency management agency, one of the key services often mandated by law to provide in an emergency is shelter, especially in the case of an evacuation. Evacuations can be traumatic enough, and if you’re telling people to leave their homes you are also becoming responsible for providing a safe place for them to go. A status board template enables you to plan out all of the information you’ll need to track well in advance of an emergency such as shelter locations, capacity, occupancy levels, and contact information. That way, it’s easy to maintain situational awareness and keep EMA staff, partner agencies, and the public up to date during an emergency.
Take a look at a ‘Shelters’ status board in action:
Empower your team to succeed by giving them a well-structured way to track information during an evacuation. Real-time shelter feedback and pre-filled templated information can make a huge difference.
By leveraging a template, the benefits save time and we gain a method to compare information over time since our data is in a consistent format. Another perk of joining an emergency management platform like D4H is that you can even share templates between organizations, and there’s a library of templates for all members.
3. Autocomplete ICS forms
The ultimate benefit of leveraging technology to aid automation is when your process is improved and it automatically generates additional information.
Some more tech-savvy emergency managers may already have online spreadsheets or electronic documents for template purposes, but by utilizing a complete emergency management software tool you can also introduce benefits like auto-completing fields within forms and automatically generate insightful reports that can be used for mitigation.
D4H’s autocomplete functionality can save time and maintain accuracy at a time when it is critical to do both. Enter key information once and D4H will instantly autofill it throughout your Incident Action Plan (IAP) with linked fields. Potential use cases are endless; add the incident number to all your resource requests in one click, or write an incident summary and have it appear on all your documents automatically.
Do you have incident reports that each team needs to file? Your emergency management software will automatically create a digital report of the most common emergencies in your region, calculated quantitatively - saving you and your team precious time. Within the D4H platform, there is even the ability to automatically email reports to multiple individuals at pre-set intervals.
No software program or artificial intelligence will entirely replace humans in the emergency management role, but they can be used as powerful tools to automate our repetitive and menial tasks. The benefit is that team resilience improves, so we are better prepared to respond to the next emergency.
About the author
For over seven years, Clinton Boyda has led a regional municipal agency in Alberta, Canada, as the Director of Emergency Management (DEM). Representing ten municipalities, Clinton has seen how important a tool like D4H is to help Emergency Managers keep organized during all phases of a disaster. Also, as a Search and Rescue First Responder, he has seen the value D4H provides to manage certifications, callouts, and incident reports. What automation would help you the most in your emergency management role?