A SEMP establishes a federal government institution's objectives, approach and structure for protecting Canadians and Canada from threats and hazards in their areas of responsibility and sets out how the institution will assist the coordinated federal emergency response. The development and employment of a SEMP is an important complement to such existing plans, because it promotes an integrated and coordinated approach to emergency management planning within federal institutions and across the federal government.
Federal government institutions in the early stages of developing a SEMP may find it useful to read the material in Sections One and Two, while other institutions with more established plans may wish to proceed directly to Section Three.
Supporting templates and tools can contribute to effective emergency management planning and are provided with this Guide.
The Emergency Management Planning Guide uses a step-by-step approach and provides instructions that are supplemented by the Blueprint and the Strategic Emergency Management Plan (SEMP) template provided in Annexes A and B, respectively. The Emergency Management Planning Unit, Public Safety Canada, is responsible for producing, revising and updating this Guide. The purpose of this Guide is to assist federal officials, managers and coordinators responsible for emergency management (EM) planning.
Given this variety of EM planning documents, the distinctions between them are summarized in the following table. A SEMP establishes a federal government institution's objectives, approach and structure for protecting Canadians and Canada from threats and hazards in their areas of responsibility, and sets out how the institution will assist the coordinated federal emergency response. It outlines the processes and mechanisms to facilitate an integrated Government of Canada response to an emergency and to eliminate the need for departments to coordinate a wider Government of Canada response.
It includes 13 emergency support functions that the federal government can implement in response to an emergency.
Operational plans may be based on all four pillars of EM planning, or focus on the specific activities of a single pillar. Emergency management (EM) refers to the management of emergencies concerning all hazards, including all activities and risk management measures related to prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
The Emergency Management Continuum is depicted in a wheel diagram where all four risk-based functions of emergency management are interconnected and interdependent in a system from prevention and mitigation to preparedness, response, and recovery. In the center of the wheel are the main elements that influence the development of a Strategic Emergency Management Plan (SEMP). Figure 1 highlights the four interdependent risk-based functions of EM: prevention and mitigation of, preparedness for, response to, and recovery from emergencies. The SEMP should ideally be reviewed on a cyclical basis as part of a federal government institution's planning cycle, as presented in Figure 2 below. This figure represents the optimal planning cycle federal institutions should consider for undertaking their emergency management planning activities.
May: Senior Institutional Management reviews year-end reports from the previous year's activities. September: Senior Institutional Management conducts mid-year check on progress of key performance objectives. February: Senior Institutional Management makes decision regarding the institution's strategic priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. This step involves starting the formal planning process in recognition of the responsibility to prepare a SEMP. Consider having members of the EM planning team designated by your institution's senior management. One of the most crucial steps in the EM planning process is to identify appropriate members for the EM planning team. Consider including a member of your institution's corporate planning area on the EM planning team in order to help align the EM planning cycle with the institution's overall business planning cycle. Federal government institutions should consider identifying the range of experience and skill sets required in the EM planning team.
The composition of the EM planning team will vary depending on institutional requirements; however, it is important that clear terms of reference (TOR) for the team be established and that individual assignments be clearly defined. After the EM planning team has clear authority and direction, the next step is to review any relevant existing legislation and policies. As noted in Section Two, the EM planning process should be carried out as part of an institution's overall strategic and business planning processes—this will support their alignment. As a next step, federal government institutions should consider developing a comprehensive understanding of the planning context. Additional supporting planning tools and templates as well as an EM glossary are provided in Annexes C and D, respectively.
As part of the environmental scan, the institution defines the internal and external parameters to be taken into account when managing the risk and setting the scope and risk criteria for the remaining risk assessment process. The Planning Context is represented in a target diagram that consists of three circles representing the factors federal institutions should consider in order to understand the context in which it operates and how it could potentially be affected.
During this process, consider conducting a full review and analysis of stakeholder documentation and reports. An inventory of critical assets and services will assist the planning team in identifying the associated threats, hazards, vulnerabilities and risks unique to their institution.


Adopting the current Treasury Board Policy related to material and asset management and coding criteria will help structure an effective approach. Risk assessment is central to any risk management process as well as the EM planning cycle. The output of the risk assessment process is a clear understanding of risks, their likelihood and potential impact on achieving objectives. The all-hazards risk assessment (AHRA) process should be open and transparent while respecting the federal institution's context. A risk register or log is used to record information about identified risks and to facilitate the monitoring and management of risks. Each institution should establish an EM governance structure to oversee the management of emergencies. It is important that the planning team confirm the strategic priorities of the institution and of senior management so that they can be reflected in the SEMP. The planning team should aim to clearly identify the planning constraints and institutional limitations that will influence the SEMP building blocks and the subsequent development of the SEMP.
Disaster Management involves planning what to do before, during and after a disaster or emergency occurs.
Planning for disasters in advance significantly reduces damage to tangible and intangible heritage, including historic sites, structures and their collections.
On June 18, 2013 the Obama Administration released the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans, the Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Institutions of Higher Education and the Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship.   These guides are the culmination of years of emergency planning work by the Federal government, and the first joint product of ED, DHS, DOJ and HHS on this critical topic.
The planning process outlined in the guides will help schools, IHEs and houses of worship align their emergency planning practices with those at the national, state, and local levels.
The new guides translate the planning guidance from these recent developments to the school, IHE and houses of worship contexts, ensuring that they benefit from these advancements, and introduce schools, IHEs and houses of worship to a new approach to planning that includes walking through different emergency scenarios to create a course of action for each objective the team is trying to accomplish, whether it be providing fire prevention training to all students and staff that work with combustible materials or evacuating everyone in the building.
It’s not often that we see marketing statements included in the title of emergency management documents. I like that the planning team was comprised of a diverse collection of agencies such as the U.S. I am absolutely thrilled about how the planning team chose to explain lockdown–not as an unreasonable, illogical panacea to all active shooter incidents (which goes against DHS guidance for active shooter response).
Overall these are very strong planning guides and constitute a huge leap in emergency preparedness planning for vulnerable sites like schools and places of worship. Emergencies can quickly escalate in scope and severity, cross jurisdictional lines, take on international dimensions and result in significant human and economic losses.
Federal government institutions are increasing their focus on emergency management (EM) activities, given the evolving risk environment in their areas of responsibility. This is why Public Safety Canada has developed this Emergency Management Planning Guide, which is intended to assist all federal government institutions in developing their all-hazards Strategic Emergency Management Plans (SEMPs). Many federal government institutions already have specific planning documents or processes to deal with aspects of emergency management that relate to their particular mandates; many also have a long track record of preparing and refining BCPs. As a matter of process, the Emergency Management Planning Guide will be reviewed annually or as the situation dictates, and amendments will be made at that time. The Guide includes a Blueprint (see Annex A), a Strategic Emergency Management Plan (SEMP) template (see Annex B), and supporting step-by-step instructions, tools and tips to develop and maintain a comprehensive SEMP—an overarching plan that establishes a federal government institution's objectives, approach and structure, which generally sets out how the institution will assist with coordinated federal emergency management, including response. It reflects leading practices (such as those provided by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Canadian Standards Association) and procedures within the Government of Canada, and should be read in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Response Plan, the Emergency Management Framework for Canada and the Federal Policy for Emergency Management. Each of these functions addresses a need that may arise before or during an emergency.
Those elements are as follows: Environmental Scan, Leadership Engagement, All-Hazards Risk Assessment, Training, Exercise, Capability Improvement Process, and Performance Assessment.
Emergency Management resource requirements should be identified as early as possible to integrate into plans. Inputs should ideally be assembled, reviewed and well understood prior to engaging in each distinct planning activity as they form an important foundation for the work to be completed.
The SEMP should be central to the federal government institution's EM activities and provide clear linkages for integrating and coordinating all other intra-departmental and inter-departmental emergency management plans.
The size and composition of the team may vary between federal government institutions; however, the planning team should ideally have the skill and experience necessary to develop the SEMP. Training is available to address EM requirements at the Canadian Emergency Management College (CEMC) and the Canada School of Public Service. Training is available to address EM requirements at the Canadian Emergency Management College (CEMC) and the Canada School of Public Service.
After completing the above steps, the planning team should consider developing a detailed work plan that includes a schedule with realistic timelines, milestones that reflect the institutional planning cycle, and a responsibility assignment matrix with assigned tasks and deadlines.
It entails a process of gathering and analyzing information and typically considers both internal and external factors (see Figure 3: The Planning Context for additional information on the factors to consider). The key to any emergency planning is awareness of the potential situations that could impose risks on the organization and on Canadians and to assess those risks in terms of their impact and potential mitigation measures.


If gaps are identified, these should ideally be gathered and presented as part of Step 3 when developing the EM Planning Framework and confirming the institution's strategic EM priorities. A threat awareness collection process should ideally link to the federal institution's information requirements and available resources.
It is a formal, systematic process for estimating the level of risk in terms of likelihood and consequences for the purpose of informing decision-making. Subject matter experts can also assist in evaluating likelihood from a qualitative perspective, for instance by using a Delphi technique (a group communication process for systematic forecasting). Additional information on analyzing likelihood and impact is provided in the Treasury Board Integrated Risk Management Framework Guidelines. These treatment options, forming recommendations, would be used to develop the risk treatment step in the risk management or emergency management cycle. The resulting SEMP building blocks will reflect strategic priorities—the desired balance between developing measures that respond to emergencies versus mitigating the risk. The EM planning governance structure may include representatives of an institution's senior management team, from all functional areas (such as programs) and all corporate areas (including communications, legal services and security). It is also crucial that roles and responsibilities, lines of accountability and decision-making processes be aligned and well understood by all concerned.
For example, an institution can be constrained by the availability of training for EM planning team members and by the number of EM positions they have staffed.
The guides incorporate lessons learned from the recent shootings in Newtown and Oak Creek as well as the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma, can be customized to each type of community, and may be used to create new emergency plans as well as to revise and update existing plans. National preparedness efforts, including emergency planning, are now informed by Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8, signed by the President in March 2011, which describes the nation’s approach to preparedness.
Schools need to be in the mindset of planning and coordinating prevention and protection measures (especially using the core capabilities and PPD framework). It does not lay out the requirements for preparing related EM protocols, processes, and standard operating procedures (SOP) internal to the institution; however, these should be developed in support of the SEMP and related plans.
As outlined in the Preface, many federal government institutions already have specific plans or processes to deal with aspects of emergency management; many also have a long track record of preparing and refining BCPs, which endeavour to ensure the continued availability of critical services. Planning can be triggered by the EM planning cycle or it can be initiated in preparation for, or in response to, an event that is induced either by nature or by human actions. Those federal government institutions that have mandated emergency support functions (ESFs) under the FERP should have these clearly identified.
Notwithstanding the blueprint provided, this step is not proposed as a linear process, but rather as a set of related components and activities that can be undertaken in the sequence that best suits the institution. This process will add the extra assurance that your institution is linked in with partner agencies and others to assist in developing the broader environmental picture and in identifying EM-related interdependencies. An all-hazards approach to risk management does not necessarily mean that all hazards will be assessed, evaluated and treated, but rather that all hazards will be considered. Risk evaluation is the process of comparing the results of the risk analysis against risk criteria to determine whether the level of risk is acceptable or intolerable. This directive represents an evolution in our collective understanding of national preparedness, based on the lessons learned from terrorism, hurricanes, school incidents, and other emergencies.
Clearly, the team that created these guides saw all the pure crap that is considered sound planning on the internet and decided they needed a bold assertion in the title. Often in emergency preparedness in the academic environment, there’s a sense of diffusion due to the large number of people, departments, vendors, and services involved in emergency management. EM planning, in particular, aims to strengthen resiliency by promoting an integrated and comprehensive approach that includes the four pillars of EM: prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
In addition, there are other existing EM planning documents and initiatives that apply to a range of federal government institutions, such as the Federal Emergency Response Plan (FERP) and deliverables under the National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure.
Stakeholders may include First Nations, emergency first responders, the private sector (both business and industry), and volunteer and non-government organizations. This part of the process consists of three main activities: risk identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation. This cross-disciplinary, continuous program management is difficult in all settings, but in higher education this seems especially true. In my humble opinion, the THIRA probably could have been slightly modified (perhaps THIRA-ED…even rhymes with higher-ed!) to offer academia and emergency management offices a standardized assessment methodology.
Department of Justicem, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Federal Emergency Management Agency.



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