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Comprehensive Preparation/Response Paradigm For Natural Disasters, Terrorism, Accidents

Global Crisis Response System (GCRS)
Dr. J. Morgan Thomas


About: A paradigm for development of a basic emergency, terrorism, accident, natural disaster or catastrophe contingency response system towards planning capability, preparedness, security enhancement, effect reduction, and mission completion.


Includes: Listing of principles, strategies, and stages in the preparation and response paradigm. Highlights major segments of the system, some of which are often minimized or overlooked, and identifies major issues without fully outlining each segment.



Basic Principles

1. Identification

2. Early warning

3. Prevention

4. Preparation

5. Response

6. Interim stabilization

7. Rehabilitation

8. Reconstruction

9. Analysis


We invite any contributions, comments or corrections.

See end of document for related pages on this site


Introduction: Each part is equally important in a security system or catastrophic event preparation and response sequence. Neglect of one or more major factors is one of the major problems in effective system development. If a system is perfect in its material and operation, but the human or environmental

factors are ignored, the system is fundamentally flawed. Environmental or human

factors may in the end be found to be more disastrous to the survival of the system

than any mechanical or material provision or capability.


Basic Principles in Preparation and Response to Crisis


Primary: Never assume that any part of the safety structure can be ignored or left uncompleted. Being caught unprepared will be far costlier than the cost of any preparation or response.


preparation: 1. Prepare for any and all contingencies.


communicate: 2. assure communication efficiency and availability at all times and

be capable of communication with all levels at all

times for updating and situation assessment.


separation of authority 3 always separate tasks and delegate authority to

ensure full preparation of all stages.


authority defined 4 always have responsibilities and lines of authority

and communication well defined and agreed



never favor or repayment 5 always match positions for skill and knowledge,

never as privilege, flavor or repayment.


involve many 6 involve other institutions, groups, governments.

Never carry all of the burden alone.


smooth out problems 7 iron out problems in communication between departments

or agency conflicts before having to depend on this

communication when decisions and action must be taken.


expertise availability 8 know who can be called upon and how to access in order to

provide expertise in any area to be affected.


constant updating 9 constantly update all individuals with new technologies,

procedures, threats and changes in organizational structure,

rules and expectations.


maximum flexibility 10 do not let predetermined decisions outweigh the situation on the

ground. Always be open to new possibilities based on changed

circumstances or a better way of approaching the problem.


independent analysis 11 constantly monitor and assess ongoing operations and provide

for independent analysis of all stages of the system before,

during and after preparation and response.


distributed for immediacy 12 always have more than enough material and transport

immediately ready and always provide for distributed storage of

all materials, transport for immediate access.


backups and alternatives 13 provide for backups and alternative plans for all operational



safeguard and protect 14 always safeguard civil liberties, human decency, basic rights

and adhere to international conventions.


Segments of a Comprehensive Preparation and Response System


1. identification

2. early warning

3. prevention

4. preparation

5. response

6. interim stabilization


emergency support


interim authority

7. rehabilitation

8. reconstruction

9. analysis


Note: Sub items below are not all inclusive but suggestive of type of

operations and special areas of concern under each title



critical first stage in the development of any system. It is the assessment and

understanding phase which allows the successful implementation of the

prevention, preparation and response phases.


ten stages

1 event analysis

separation of all types of events - each has its own time line, effects, and


specification of different types of sub events or processes

causative factors

determination of significant features of each sub event

cross referencing of similar features which can be used across events

2 modeling of event

modeling of stages of events and sub processes

assessment of timing and sequence

assessment of interaction of elements

identification of all accompanying occurrences

highlighting of vulnerabilities of system and ways to strengthen

3 identification of population, social structure, material, environment affected, how

affected, and zones of danger/damage

4 identification of historical reoccurrence, responses to the event or attending events,

and effects and reasons for successes and failures

5 scenario development, computerized, field exercise and simulation of all possible events

and response modes including accompanying occurrences, side effects, feedback


6 countermeasures

identification of direct and indirect countermeasures, materials and application

techniques, and effects of each.

7 funding

assessment of funding needed to fulfill each stage of system development

identification of different resources from which to obtain help including private, nonprofit,

local, state and federal levels and how to obtain

8 laws and regulations

determination of legal structure needed at all governmental levels for procurement,

expropriations, rights of way, funding, etc. to support all possible operations.

It is often too late to develop or pass legislation, gain permits, etc. which will

delegate the requisite authority and scope of duties under the pressure of the event.



Usually seen as part of prevention but often side lined and not developed to its fullest

potential. The warning system it not only used in warning of immanent events but also

operates during the response and subsequent stages to warn of possible side effects,

unexpected or unplanned for reactions, and buildup/lack of processes or materials which

need special attention. This is actually the nerve center of each stage of the system,

although the warning system is constituted differently for each stage.

This part of the security system contains at a minimum, the following items:

1. identification of those occurrences or early warning signs which precede an event

2. development and updating of effective communication system

3. constant upgrading of system with new technologies

4. components of warning system and timing of surveillance including

detection equipment for radiation and bio/chemical agents where possibly involved

5. development of a constant surveillance system

6. efficient warning mechanisms

7. system of periodic checks as to validity and impermeability of system

8. test of effectiveness of communications and preparedness of response to alerts

9. development of warning signals for "after shocks", sub events or processes within

each stage

10. backup and alternatives if warning system breaks down or encounters unforeseen problems

11. analysis of warning signs and decision structure

12. types of intervention and scheduling for repair or replacement

13. development of standby status and procedures while repair or replacement activated

14. chain of alert status and procedures

scheduling of personnel

analysis of early warning signs

procedures at each stage

15. use of simulations and games to occasionally test the response

of the system to a crisis and to test the lines of communication

16. development of legislation, permits, land, air, water use concerning installation,

support and use

17. development of increased prediction of events or inner phase occurrences

18. constant analysis of operation and success and failure of system after each event or sub event.





Prevention operates at all stages


prevention of event itself or mitigation of force and action to decrease or

eliminate the event, portions of event, or side effects

assessment of possibilities and capabilities for prevention

alternative means of prevention, removal or transference, elimination, channeling, diversion,

break up, strengthening, counter force, localization, etc.

timely action to institute preventive action

prevention of all possible deleterious effects of event or sub events

development of scenarios and simulations to assess the effectiveness of preventive action



Prevention of the event itself or any of its side effects does not lessen the need

for preparation for response.

All the structures needed must be developed here. There will be little time in the response

and rehabilitation stages to develop these. Anything not developed will cost time in indecision

and confusion which may not be correctable within the given time frame


1. command, control and management

2. strategy and overall planning

3. material and support

4. communication

5. education

6. knowledge base

7. monitoring assessment

8 analysis

9. statutes, licenses, rules, permissions


1. command, control and management

In the event of emergency, everyone must know what to do, who to report to,

and the general command structure. However, flexibility must be built into the

whole system. Any rigidity in the system at any point may lead to failure

even in the accomplishment of the simplest tasks.


Most important is the need to lessen social, cultural and historical pressures

operating within the organization which might create conflict or ineffectiveness of

operations in preparation or response. Individuals having conflicting roles to play or an

inability to work successfully with each other or within the overall confines of the

system may be the determining cause of an accident or breakdown.



development of chain of command

centralized planning

centralization of authority, planning, communication, analysis

changes in chains of command in all possible scenarios

development of a center for administration and communication and analysis

ability to effectively and efficiently centralize and control preparation, response,

containment and reconstruction

be sure that inter group or inter agency cooperation is assured at all levels

and at all times

have clear lines of responsibility and authority in place and agreed on by all

involved at every level

clarification between preparation and response structures

functions and specific roles

division of responsibility

functions delineated


types and modes of supervision for each stage of the system

including backup systems

prevention of duplication of effort


see communication in box

administrative procedures

rules of behavior

personnel functions

training, refresher courses, incentives

development of forms

development of efficient reporting procedures


rules for replacement

extra system support

initiation of fund raising and the accumulation of sources and funds necessary to carry out

the preparation and response

development of extra system support which can be called upon in an emergency


scheduling of administrative phases


timetable of procurement of materials and arranging of personnel for each type of


enforcement, legal and appeal structure

initiation of the legal structure needed and the passing of laws, institution of rules

needed to provide legal structure for each element of the preparation and response


legislation of laws, obtaining of permits, rights of way, etc. covering area involved,

materials involved in the prevention and response, land regulation, provision of types of

facilities and response

development of rules and behavior at all levels

testing through scenarios and simulation and field tests of management techniques,

centralization and command capability

independent expert overview

rules for incorporating outside help, enlistment of personnel

backup checks on effectiveness of overview system

external checks and assessment unencumbered with chain of command

2. strategy and overall planning

assess what is possible given the available resources and what is needed

detail all that has been discovered during the identification stage

develop overall plan for each stage

determine all possible scenarios needed and requirements for each

availability of needed components to respond immediately

have all materials and supplies stockpiled in strategic places

updating, installation, training and use of newer methods, materials

periodic measures to be taken to reinvigorate, replace, check different parts

of system and system as a whole.

know the possible risks involved

keep abreast of the new developments in reduction of risk, capability assessment,

preparedness, response, aftermath reduction of causalities or system breakdown,


identify and locate all risk areas and provide for containment

establish multiple means of keeping all members and groups involved in each stage of the

process informed, up-to-date.

detailed analysis of risk in each area and the proper

gain countermeasure support from all levels of government including local councils

assessment of all of the potential risks of a particular operation or occurrence in the

system and the updating of all individuals connected with the event.

determination of methods and materials needed to protect health, lives, property, environment

backup system for each critical function and critical materials

triggers for initiation

timing and necessity of initiation of backup systems

in very high vulnerability or very critical functions, design and provide a double backup

fix number and type of backup systems for different disruption scenarios

provision of production, surveillance and maintenance of backup

updating of surveillance and maintenance scheduling

provide distributed storage and transport for backup system and replacement of all materials

constant updating of all materials

planned obsolescence of materials

existence of newer better versions

difficulty of getting parts and continued maintenance of replacement and

normal maintenance parts

alternatives are different from backups. Backups are similar in design and function with

the base system while the primary alternatives are different ways of approaching a problem

Alternatives are usually part of the system which have possible dual functions. The design

of any response should include a number of different ways to produce a similar effect

- provision of multiple correction or of alternative modes to fix a problem. The user or

coordinator of any system should be familiar enough with the fundamental parts to

effectively utilize alternatives. Special attention must be given to this both in terms of possible

material loss and the need for alternatives to accomplish the same task, or in terms of an

alternative and totally novel way of operating.


3. material and support

determination of and scheduling of supplies with backup

develop list of suppliers and reliability

development of supply lines and transport with backup

determination of all materials needed

identify possible causes of breakdown, wear, stress, disruption, weak links, aging, accidental

change in structural elements or delivery

initiate provision for and scheduling for testing, surveillance, maintenance, and replacement

stockpile at strategic points

development of personnel supervision, and procedures for supply, materials, maintenance,

scheduling, acquisition and obsolescence, storage and use

4. communication

see communication box

5. education

response personnel

awareness and general knowledge of what to do and how

development of specific skills needed

scheduled updating of procedures

development of educational series covering each part which must be

completed depending on each individuals position in the system.

upgrade and ensure readiness through refresher courses and seminars to include new

technologies, new methods of dealing with system entities, new ways of prevention.


television, radio, computer series to help educate and prepare general public with

regard to events

development of general public educational series to be used in lower and middle

schools to provide an atmosphere of event prevention, awareness and preparedness.

6. knowledge base

develop easily accessed and comprehensive base of information on all levels of operation

and for all materials

constant updating

assessable to all personnel depending on function, role, status

7. analysis, assessment and monitoring

see analysis box

8. expertise

have all expertise readily available and updated

distribute lists to all relevant personnel and their next in line.

9. protection of civil rights and dignity of population

develop set of rules to be followed n every situation

establish an atmosphere of legality, protection and dignity to assure compliance once response

mode is under way.

provide the necessary materials, facilities, personnel and mobility needed to fulfill.



All functions should be simultaneously operational since time is usually a critical factor.

No operation should be mounted without supply and support functions in place and operational


1. Initial procedures

evaluation of event

evaluation of preparedness

knowledge and data scan from all available sources

prioritizing of areas and types of response

flexibility of response based on need and materials, personnel

2. command established - both centralized and distributed

develop plan of response or attack

3. communication

see communication box

4. provision of supplies and manpower

check and activation of available supplies, material, personnel

arrange to fill all gaps in implementation, support, backup forces

contact resource and service providers

activation of standing resources and manpower

5. maintenance of mobility

maximization of mobility for all routes and types of transport

6. actions

containment and corrective action

activation of predetermined modes of operation

reduction of effect

constant evaluations of effectiveness

provision of needed materials and emergency supplies and equipment

safeguarding population, material, structures and environment

directive action, avert, channel , destroy or mitigate continued actions of

destructive forces

prevention of within response occurrences which will increase the damage or

necessity of added response

containment of continuing damage

containment of side effects - environmental, civilian reaction, retribution, power void,

opportunism, isolation, structural weakening, medical delays

7. constant in-response analysis and updating

standardized reporting


where needed, assessment and activation of alternatives or backups

initiation of system of monitoring for warning signs of immanent breakdown

review knowledge and delivery capability and where backups are positioned

constant assessment of response based on need and changing circumstances

well defined and immediate assessment of trends

8. search and rescue

assessment of type of search needed

area designations for search and rescue teams

activation scheduling

provision of support for search crews

provision of basic food, clothing, tools

constant updating of dangers in field and communication to and between all ground level


methods of guaranteed coverage and indication of areas covered and means to

prevent duplication

constant assessment of supplies needed and logistics

replace scheduling

methods of activating survivors and use of local population and survivors as location

and knowledge base

search and destroy or minimization of effect

area sweeps

procedures for medical care, isolation and quarantine where necessary

9. assessment and analysis

see analysis box

10. backups, alternatives or contingency plans

assess all backup and contingency plans and availability

activate early warning as to indicators of possible problems in implementation of plan

11. overview

constant assessment and analysis

independent assessment and analysis at all times



This is often the most vulnerable part of the system often overlooked or muddled

through. Should be planned equally with other segment of the system of response.

Interim stabilization is made up of stabilization during response and aftermath, emergency

support of population, mop-up, and interim authority.


Four Parts


decrease panic, fear, disorientation

designation of safe areas and sufficient transport

provide up-to-date news broadcasts and other communications in a format capable of

being received and understood by affected population

social and psychological support services

constant communication at all levels to dispel inaccurate information

control and preventive action to contain actions detrimental to community

prevention of further damage, deterioration

establish major networks of supply including water, food, medical, fuel

protection of natural resources - environment, protected areas, forests, water ways, wildlife

protection, etc.

protection and disposal of sensitive and hazardous materials

policing to prevent vandalism, retribution, looting, disorder, mob violence and to generally

protect ground personnel and population

identification and declaration of restricted zones and activities backed up by the

necessary enforcement


emergency services

plans and decisions for wounded and the handling of causalities

basic physical support for survivors

provision of basic food, clothing, tools, shelter

determination of distribution of needed support

mobilization of transfer support

provision and allocation of needed supplies to ward off disease, depravation,

effects of environmental elements

setting up of field hospitals, outpatient clinics and transport to established hospitals and care



assessment and initiation of initial steps needed to replace primary support to

population, wildlife, environment

provision of basic needs of the infrastructure damaged

initiation of initial corrective actions to provide ruptured or destroyed services such

as power, water, sewage,

determine and provide protection against dangers such as chemicals, gases, hot

zones, munitions, etc.

maintenance of solutions instituted during response phase

prevention of accidents and further loss due to structural instability

institution of clearing, storing, waste removal or detoxification, transport and recovery


protection of vulnerable or valuable public property.


institution of interim authority which will provide support during the hours and days

immediately after event. Must be top level and highly charismatic and capable

since it paves the way for trust, initial building and stabilization

development of clarity on the scope of the role to fulfill

establishment of laws, rules for support of authority

supervision and clearing the way by providing support for other interim stabilization stages

security assurances and provisions for backup if necessary

field judicial system with independent appeal structure and adherence to international


guarantees that responsibility and actions taken are commensurate with risk and need

setting up initial security and initiate confidence building measures

establishment of reconstruction authority

provision for hand over to reconstruction authority once established



Rehabilitation deals with the human side of reconstruction. Reconstruction is usually equated

with the rebuilding of institutions, renewal of public services and the building of physical

structures along with the renewal of economic, educational and general social services

capabilities. The recovery process for individuals and families is not only physical, but

emotional and spiritual. Physical reconstruction can not by itself provide this. Some

institutions of society must also go through rehabilitation since the emergency and response

process together with side effects may have severely damaged the basis of many institutions.


This process must begin immediately with the cessation of the response phase and in many

cases must be instituted during the response itself and hence planned during the preparation



first aid, general health care, disease abatement

repatriation of refugees, location of relatives, placement of dispossessed individuals and


finding lost pets

interim schooling


burial and bereavement

religious services and activities

recreation for different age groups

institution of care giving including a wide range of social services

security assurances

programming of radio and TV toward identification, and solace

inform and help apply for insurance claims, governmental grants, aid, loans for rebuilding, etc.



development of a reconstruction authority

establish command and control structure

development of plan for reconstitution of social structure and economic reconstruction

establishment of legal, policing and other protection structure needed during stage

assessment of physical needs of the population once the emergency status has ended

repair of and further development of water, gas and other immediate needs capabilities

initiation of major financial, employment, industrial, education, social services, judicial and

other institutions

building of physical structures needed for housing, generation of income, employment, social


assessment of long term needs and resources and capabilities available

assessment of best methods and types of reconstruction

development of timeline and prerequisites for each new stage of reconstruction

education and skill training toward filling jobs necessary for the reconstruction process

setting stage for self help and intra/inter group development and cooperation

setting up the social mechanisms and economic base for inclusion of those dispersed by the


development of base for repayment of loans and grants for reconstruction and emergency




see Analysis Box




Multi Stage Functions

Certain functions are similar in the preparation and response stages except for time line.

These are command, analysis, communication and supply. Secondly, in a well defined

and functioning system, the preparation stage is the simulation for the response stage.

The communications and analysis segments will be included here.



Communication should be centralized and the primary unit operating at all stages

with agreed upon delegation of command within the separate sub units.

Make sure that communication lines are established and physical communication

capabilities are operational at all times. Establish alternative communication

routes to minimize any breakdown or delay and provide open lines to all operational

levels including a central open line for the public to call in information related to

emergency, alert, information


communication should provide:

procedures to avoid jumbled or incomplete information, biased or too narrow in scope

sufficient channeling to avoid overload, identification of correct target for communication,

and speed of delivery

separate free communication channels for fast and timely delivery of critical information

correct production, reproduction, backup and overlap to avoid misunderstanding

increased coordination and a communication loop to include all involved regardless of level

communicate in order to:

direct the different stages of system response

reduce confusion and time needed to respond

clarification of orders, laws and rules affecting each stage

increase provision of help

warning of dangers pre and post event and precautions to be taken

prevention of side events and collateral damage

increase participation of population affected

develop support and resources

prevent and or ameliorate events and sub events

develop for operational functions to direct, request orders, clarify, receive information

support performance of all duties, actions to, from and within all levels

keep all relevant personnel and bodies updated on any changes in any part of the

preparedness system.

within group communication involved in each stage

between groups, interagency communication

communication from operational personnel in field

communication with and to affected population

communication capabilities to expert advice if needed

alert the public and provide public awareness of possible threats and

countermeasures to be taken

inform, reduce panic, misinformation in general population





1. goals of analysis

(1) Analysis is a process of problem solving and event response analysis which takes into

account historical incidents and the effectiveness of solutions and causes of failure can

significantly reduce the effects of an event.

(2) Analysis provides the data from the field in understandable form to aid in the successful

direction of response.


Never underestimate the effects of an event.


2. techniques

development of cross indexed database for historical date, case studies, research,

recording and analysis

constant monitoring as to effects of action taken and possible side effects

contingency plans for monitoring in case of emergency

constant analysis of field data to assess possible problems

analysis of trends in all data

3. segments of system in which analysis operates

constant analysis and updating of all events at all stages and ongoing actions, aftershocks

analysis and updating of backup and alternative systems for all response operations

4. reporting and record keeping

centralization of assessment.

development of standardized forms, checks

use of checklists developed for different levels, different events, operations

standardized reporting of accidents or events

record keeping, ease of recording changes, mishaps, weaknesses, previous

incidents as a basis for analysis when faced with a problem.

timing and authority for follow-up for all events as well as regular reporting procedures

5. types of analysis

constant analysis of effectiveness of command, response, methods, needs, supply lines,

communication, safety measures, holes in response, lack of materials or support

analysis of ongoing procedures successes/failures

analysis of further damage due to successive reoccurrence of event or similar events

analysis of all response elements towards improvement of lines of communication

and cooperation

the warning signs and awareness to impending event

all phases which were not accomplished, could have been better, were not previously

planned or were poorly or insufficiently planned

identification of holes in the system which may lead to disaster

analysis of integrity of materials and tools, equipment

analysis of and special attention on failures to identify possible problems

provision for immediate analysis of any unexpected change of status

analysis of effects of preventative action on population, environment and on the

capability to respond

analysis of an inter-related data retrieval system and the adequacy of learning, searching,

finding answers, use in investigation, learning from previous events

6. oversight

external assessment by independent experts

accountability - acceptance of responsibility and ability to give sufficient reason for actions

7. change based on assessment, analysis and outside evaluation

need to create the means and atmosphere for acceptance of change within different

stages of the system.

a well defined post crisis set of actions and rules in order to learn from the crisis

establishment of new rules of behavior, help individuals deal with the consequences

of the crisis

reassessment of the problems within the organization which may have been the sufficient

cause or continuation of the crisis


(c) copyright Morgan Thomas and Global Crisis Solution Center 2004. All rights reserved