While many organizations develop plans, integrating them throughout an organization and across others is often overlooked. Understanding the process of planning and how plans are connected allows emergency services organizations the ability to positively impact their communities, provide guidance for improving community health and safety, and ensure that emergency services issues are recognized and addressed throughout the planning process.
Generally, communities develop a comprehensive plan that all other plans — strategic, agency, program, event and Incident Action Plans — should align with and support. Organizations must also ensure their plans support and are in agreement with other jurisdictional, regional, state and federal plans. While plan formats will vary, they should include the following:
- Current state – Describe the current situation and any planning assumptions.
- Desired state – Describe how the plan will change the current situation.
- Path forward – Describe the strategic action steps you will take to reach the desired state.
- Responsibilities – Describe who is responsible for each step.
- Resources – Describe the resources needed and how they are assigned to meet the planning objectives.
- Contingencies and obstacles – Identify what can impede progress, and identify ways to mitigate their impact.
- Benchmarks, reporting and reviewing – Describe when the plan is reviewed and who is notified of the plan’s progress. This section also includes following up with an After-Action Report and improvement plan for future planning.
Action step for developing integrated plans
The National Fire Academy (NFA) provides planning classes in budget, Emergency Medical Services, water supply, hazardous materials, geographic information systems, terrorism, and executive planning. For more information on the over 30 planning courses at the NFA, visit the NFA Catalog.
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