A comprehensive continuity of operations plan will help ensure that residents know how to work with emergency personnel and stay safe through disasters.

New York town wants to create better evacuation plans

Along with a comprehensive continuity of operations plan that accounts for emergency evacuation orders, towns of all sizes can benefit from running tabletop exercises. Without educating all residents, how else can individuals be expected to know the proper ways to keep themselves and others safe?

Niagara County, an area in upstate New York, wants to update its plans for maintaining critical infrastructure and emergency communication plans in case of a disaster.

"We asked the towns and villages if they all had their evacuation plan in place and they said, 'Oh, yes.' And then we exercised it and they had nothing," County Manager Jeffrey Glatz told the legislature's Administration Committee on February 12.

Glatz added that some, but not all areas, had properly updated and exercised new plans. 

Legislator David Godfrey told The Buffalo News that an evacuation plan is the final component needed for a countywide emergency management plan.

Questions about evacuation routes, jurisdiction over the roads used, and who would be in charge are among the issues that would have to be hashed out, John Cecula, assistant to the Emergency Management Director, said in a committee meeting. 

Glatz explained that the county Health Department's emergency plan – pertaining to the mass delivery of immunizations in case of an outbreak – received a 100 percent score from Albany for the third year in a row. However, more preparation is needed on multiple levels to ensure that the area can stay safe during a disaster and recovery properly afterwards.

Working with business continuity consultants can be especially beneficial for towns like the one in upstate New York. These professionals can help design tabletop exercises and other intricacies that can keep residents safe for numerous situations.