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Emergency Planning

This is a context scenario involving these personas:

  • Anderson, Associate Dean
  • Dorothy, his secretary
  • Felix, the Physical Plant Manager
  • Nancy, a Community Outreach Officer on the police force

The university has embarked on a plan for emergencies such as natural disasters and pandemics, and, realizing quickly that other local groups should be involved, has invited the town's hospital, police and fire units, and state and federal law enforcement, to join the discussion.  So far the Inter-Agency Emergency Planning Group has held two meetings, which Dorothy arranged by phone and e-mail. Discussion consisted of introductions and an explanation, from each party, of its mission and operations and how they might be affected by emergency circumstances. The second meeting speculated about possible scenarios and resulted in an invitation to the local National Guard (stationed at a base 50 miles away) to attend.  One aspect of emergency planning, an automatic notification to the campus community via text message and e-mail, is already under deployment by Information Technology. Anderson wants to document that notification service as the first step in the plan.

Dorothy, at Anderson's request, has set up a collaborative website on a campus server for the offices and units involved in this committee. Those on campus have already been made website members, but the committee is not yet quite sure how the local agencies will participate. Everyone wants to keep it as simple as possible for them, although these external units have no access to university computer systems. Anderson has genially told them that his secretary will figure out how to handle it. Dorothy has pointed out that they will present the final product to different constituencies in different ways-- the public will get a informational website, the university President and other offices will get a detailed plan and procedure, and emergency agencies will get security information or contacts and other components yet to be determined.

Each participant promised to write an account of his or her agency's mission and operations, based on the first meeting, and submit them for collection and sharing.  Anderson is interested, today, in making sure that these first exploratory documents are all turned in. (He wants to get this project wrapped up quickly.)  They are arriving via the collaborative website, but also by e-mail and on paper.  Nancy has called in frustration to note that everything done by her agency, and also the fire department, counts as emergency response, and she dashed off a quick list of very general headings. 

After Dorothy combines these documents into a list, or database, of each agency, with complete contact information and the types of help that it can offer, she will schedule the next meeting. The group intends to brainstorm the development of a list of critical factors, entitled "Things to Think About."  This will include malicious attack, fire, flood, pets, water purity, heated shelters, emergency medical personnel, sanitation and waste disposal, chemical contamination, power sources, local language translators, and many other disparate items, some to be counted as assets and some as threats.  Felix has already dropped by Dorothy's desk to mention a couple of obscure items that should be included on that list, such as chemical stores and electrical generators housed in some departments.  Fortunately, Felix is her friend, as the long-suffering Dorothy has many other tasks to handle.

The Inter-Agency Emergency Planning group will then consider each ageny's mission and operations in terms of the "Things to Think About." They expect collaborative review and comments to form much of their upcoming work, moving toward a goal of efficient coordination of efforts under diverse scenarios. The group has articulated the task of keeping the plan up-to-date, wherever its parts are ultimately housed, as the basis of emergency preparedness for the town.


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  1. This scenario illustrates these needs:

    • Collaborators, including authors, with minimal tech skills, from outside the institution
    • Retention for reference and updating, permanently
    • Undetermined changes over time in participants, access by roles, and ownership
    • No student roles, no teaching