Integrated Emergency Management (IEM)/Business Continuity Management involves proactively providing detailed and organized directions, guidance and organizational structures on emergency preparedness, response and communication in an organization, in this case, the military, to ensure the health and safety of the military community and the environment. Departments and individuals identified are assigned to specific responsibilities and accountability for responding to emergencies and critical support services. This plan also fosters coordination and deployment of the essential resources required. Appropriate training and exercises are a vital part of this strategy that will ensure practicality and counter any errors. Different theories put in place are validated, using an array of methods for efficiency, completeness, expressiveness, and generality in order to guarantee that the concepts are correct, different emergencies are represented, and the IEM structure is logical. Auditing is also extremely necessary since it seeks to provide assurance that the management controls in place are operative and adequate, and they comply with local legislation and policy.
Validation and Auditing Plans
A critical success factor for all establishments involves the ability of organization to continue with fundamental business functions while responding to major disasters and after them, returning to normal operation cohesively and efficiently. Thus, the validation and auditing of a business continuity management plan are highly essential. The two processes involve testing, verifying, and examining an organization’s recovery procedures in a case of an emergency in order to address the relevant processes, personnel, technology issues, and controls for the contingency plan to work as anticipated. Therefore, every organization should have a solid emergency training, exercising and validation program, independently and with other agencies, to ensure the continuity of business, and the contingency plan examined based on the goals and objectives set.
Validation and Audit Process
The most efficient way to validate the effectiveness of strategies (other than real events) is to test and review them regularly. The validation process is usually carried out by internal auditors and other stakeholders. This process encompasses developing the Military Emergency Unit department’s understanding and expertise as well as producing maps for the sectors they have responsibility for, and highlighting the vulnerabilities (Cabinet Office & National Security and Intelligence, 2014). Further, the process includes establishing an emergency warning system, developing agreed response plans, and understanding the legal powers available as well as their use in any emergency conducted (Cabinet Office & National Security and Intelligence, 2014). Knowing the limitations and dependencies of any response plan and having a media for information dissemination on crisis handling strategies together with the available resources to implement it is also part of this process. (Cabinet Office, 2004; Cabinet Office & National Security and Intelligence, 2014). Risk priorities of management form the basis of the internal auditing process. In this process, the scope of the audit is defined by rational assessment of the associated risks, an auditing plan is drawn within the constraints of available resources, and audit fieldwork is completed by the auditors who would examine the contingency plan based on the goals and objectives set. The auditing program would also cover the direction of the design, gathering of information, consultations, writing and publishing of the audit reports, training and then validation (Swanson, 2016). Therefore, validation and assessment processes should be holistic, as demonstrated above, to ensure that no important aspect of the BCM plan is left out.
Benefits of Validating and Auditing an IEM/BCM Plan
Numerous benefits accrue from the process of validating and auditing an integrated emergency management plan. The process of validation and auditing would provide a framework to benchmark the procedures established by managers and ensuring that the plans are always updated, simple to understand, accurate and achievable. Reviewing and evaluating contingency plans would provide the evidence that all departments conform to emergency planning, and there is a satisfactory outcome to crises. Risks, assets, and resources (human and materials) are identified, and lessons are learned from previous failures. Audit results can aid in identifying areas of the disaster recovery program that are not complete, that do not have the proper procedures, those that lack the right documentation, or those that have not been tested or updated yet (Kirvan, 2009). The military, as a body, should conduct validating and auditing to benefit from the IEM plan.
Types of Training, Exercising Validation Methods
Training and exercises would be explicitly made to fit the responsibilities of the personnel involved in contingency management hierarchy that includes all sectors, the Emirate Authority and the Federal Authority (NCEMA, 2012). There are various types of training, exercising, and validation methods available. To begin with, three key exercising methods, which include discussion-based, table-top, and live exercises, can be used (Cabinet Office & National Security and Intelligence, 2014). All of the above have variations in their themes. Thus, discussion-based exercises are usually centered on a given scenario or a set of circumstance and aimed at informing new and established military personnel about the organization and the procedures to be used when responding to a contingency. At the same time, table-top exercises involve role-playing by participants and imagination to generate high levels of realism. They are cost-effective and efficient in testing people, procedures, and plans. Fewer members involved interact and understand their roles and responsibilities in cases of emergencies. Lastly, live exercises could range from a small-scale military test to the full-scale multi-agency/departmental tests of a crisis. These drills offer the best way to confirm the operation of the emergency management plan. Live exercises could range from drill exercises, full-scale exercises, and multi-site exercises that provide the only means to test the arrangements of handling the media during contingencies.
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Selection of an Appropriate Training, Exercising, and Validation Method
Regarding teaching and validation exercises, the most recommended ones would be live exercises mainly because they allow having the simulation of real life emergencies, thus giving the military personnel involved a chance to acquire knowledge on how to respond. Live exercises also give an opportunity for revision and rethinking where the live incident simulation may contain errors. Participating in realistic exercises involving multidisciplinary and multijurisdictional incidents improves coordination and operations between multiple agencies. They also help stakeholders develop assurance in their expertise and provide an experience of a real life event. Ensuring that the validation process is successful, trace validation would be more efficient because the behavior of different emergency management procedures would be followed through on the set validation plan to determine if the processes are logical. Thus, it will enhance correction where necessary for the purposes of accuracy (Othman, Beydoun, & Sugumaran, 2014). This type of validation method will determine that different concepts and real contingency management scenarios are in agreement.
Organization of the Training, Exercise, and Validation Method
The military training, exercise, and validation program would be organized into five phases (Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, 2016). The first chapter would involve establishing a foundation for the development, conducting and evaluation of the exercises. During this step, a team in charge of planning, seminar schedules, and the timeline would be identified, and the resources available will be determined. The second stage will include identification of objectives, development of scenarios and documentation, coordination of logistics and tasks, and selection of assessment and improvement methodology. The third phase would involve setting up for the live exercises, briefings, evaluation, and the wrap-up activities that would facilitate the conducting of the drill.
The fourth part would encompass an extensive evaluation of the training as a major step in improving the process of observing, recording the activities in these exercises, and subsequently comparing the objectives against participants’ performance. Thus, the strengths and weaknesses would be known, and corrective measures put in place. The last segment would involve follow-up activities, whereby shortfalls are identified, and the required corrective procedures and actions are taken. The lessons learned from the training, exercising, and validation converted into solid steps would result in improved response capabilities.
Locally, the contingency response planning together with airport authorities, emergency services, and supporting agencies would aid in emergency services by planning and training staff volunteers and other front line staff in emergency management. Training is done in Dubai and outstations. The Department of Relief and Emergency in the UAE Red Crescent Authority, similarly to the relevant departments of the movement of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies would offer support since they are competent in dealing with the implementation of activities related to emergencies. The National Emergency Medical Response Programme (Estijaba), together with National Voluntary Response Team, the National Medical Response Team and the National Fire Fighting and Rescue Team would also assist in the training of the military staff in the area of responding to medical emergencies. The training programs are then conducted under the supervision of certified trainers from four prominent international institutions in the field of emergency and disaster from the United States and the United Kingdom in partnership with the Emirates National Emergency Response Academy, a division of Tadreeb. The Emirates Emergency and Disaster Response Seminar and the National Emergency Medical Response Camp are other initiatives of Estijaba. The Sanid (Arabic for “support”), which focuses on emergency response, also works with the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA), the General Directorate of Abu Dhabi Police (ADP) (Abu Dhabi eGovernment, n.d.). Others involved include the Ministry of Interior, Abu Dhabi University, the Swedish Civil Defense and, the US Citizens Corps of Community Emergency Response Training (CERT). CERT educates individuals about disaster preparedness and trains them in basic disaster response skills such as light search and rescue, fire safety, team organization, and disaster medical operations (Abu Dhabi eGovernment, n.d.).
In conclusion, the processes of validation and auditing in any organization, in this case, the military, are exceptionally necessary for ensuring that the business continuity management plan is effective. The training and live drills are efficient when conducted between two or more agencies and tested and reviewed regularly. The organization and selection of the training, exercise, and validation methods is to be done well and competently to ensure that no critical part is left out. From this information, it is evident that numerous benefits will accrue, hence helping the military organization to continue key business practices even after an emergency.