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A model of disaster management.

A Model of Disaster Management

EL SEGUNDO, CA, AT 9:30 AM, ON April 14, 1988, a sudden and jolting earthquake strikes southern California. The South Bay region of greater Los Angeles appears to have suffered great property damage. Approximately 15 minutes after the earthquake, radio and television news broadcasts state that the magnitude of the earthquake was approximately 6.4 on the Richter scale and that the epicenter was approximately five miles southeast of the Los Angeles International Airport.

Five minutes later, the chief of Xerox El Segundo's emergency operations center (EOC) notifies security via radio to implement the provisions of Xerox's master disaster plan. As EOC personnel start calling the control center, they receive the following message:

"This is a simulated disaster exercise. An earthquake has struck southern California. The emergency operations center chief has initiated the provisions of the disaster plan...."

THAT EARTHQUAKE EXERCISE MAY have been simulated, but to the more than 5,000 employees of the Xerox El Segundo complex, the threat of such a disaster is real.

The Xerox complex consists of 14 buildings located on 24 acres in southwest Los Angeles County, two miles south of Los Angeles International Airport. This industrialized area is dangerously close to the San Andreas, Inglewood Newport, and several other major earthquake faults. In fact, from January 1, 1988 through April 30, 1988, southern California (the area of Bakersfield south to San Diego) experienced 460 earthquakes that registered 2.5 or higher on the Richter scale.

An earthquake would create the greatest demand for emergency services at Xerox because it could cause a number of other disasters, such as fires, hazardous materials spills, and sprinkler system and other equipment impairments.

Earthquakes, however, are not the only hazards that threaten Xerox El Segundo. Fires, explosions, chemical spills, floods (from tsunamis), air disasters, or a combination of any of these emergencies could be devastating to the facility's operations. Those operations include printer, computer, copier, and microchip manufacturing; research and design; engineering; offices; and warehousing.

That's why in June 1985 Xerox El Segundo management established an employee task team to develop a comprehensive emergency plan for the El Segundo complex--a plan designed to cover any type of disaster or emergency that could affect the site.

The Xerox task team included representatives from various departments in administration, physical plant, and manufacturing operating groups. This team began to develop the emergency plan by answering these key questions:

* What types of disasters are possible at Xerox El Segundo?

* What help will be available from civil authorities in a large-scale disaster such as an earthquake?

* How many people at the site are likely to be affected?

* What types of organizations, supplies, and equipment are needed to cope with an emergency?

* How will personnel communicate throughout the facility?

* What type of training will the staff need?

The answers to these questions convinced the group that specialized training in emergency planning was imperative if the group was to put together an effective and usable emergency plan.

DEVELOPING AN EFFECTIVE DISASTER plan for a complex the size of Xerox El Segundo is an organizational challenge. The 14 buildings that comprise the 24-acre complex have varied occupancies and require different emergency responses.

Xerox handles minor emergencies through its emergency response teams, such as hazmat (hazardous material) teams, hose crews, and fire extinguisher crews. But when the entire complex is affected, as in the case of an earthquake, Xerox's EOC is activated.

The EOC is staffed with trained personnel responsible for the centralized coordination and direction of all emergency response activities throughout the Xerox complex. The buildings at the complex are divided into two categories: the core site and satellite locations.

Xerox's core site includes all buildings within the 24-acre complex except Xerox Centre, a 16-story office building; CP-8, a three-story office building; and CP-10, a two-story office building. These three buildings are considered satellite locations. A fourth satellite is the component warehouse, located 11 miles from the main complex.

The core site and all satellite locations are covered by the master disaster plan. In addition, personnel at the warehouse have received extensive emergency response training in case personnel from the EOC cannot reach the site.

Xerox's safety engineer and senior fire inspector had previously attended Factory Mutual Engineering's Loss Control Decision-Making seminar, where they learned the key aspects of property loss control, including emergency planning and response.

In addition, several Xerox employees involved with the emergency plan attended a five-day course titled "Civil Emergency Management Planning Techniques" given by the California Specialized Training Institute.

This course prompted Xerox to model its master disaster plan after the multi-hazard functional plan used by civil agencies throughout California. By doing so, the Xerox team eliminated potential communication problems because the terminology and procedures used by Xerox can be understood by all city, county, state, and federal emergency personnel.

The Xerox master disaster plan addresses all natural disasters and technological situations that could affect the site. Because the El Segundo complex is so large and the types and severity of potential emergencies are so varied, Xerox's disaster plan allows for a wide range of emergency responses. The disaster plan calls for emergency operations to be managed in one of the following three modes:

Level one (decentralized coordination and direction). Emergencies are handled at this level when normal procedures can be followed and local resources, such as the public fire department, are available. The EOC is not activated at this level, and emergency coordination is handled via established telephone and radio communication systems.

Level two (centralized coordination and decentralized direction). This mode is used to respond to emergencies involving several departments. Key management personnel from these departments meet to coordinate on how to handle the emergency.

Level three (centralized coordination and direction). This mode is used after a major disaster. The emergency operations center (EOC) is activated, and all coordination and direction of activities are accomplished through the EOC.

The EOC is a vital part of Xerox's master disaster plan. The EOC is a facility used for centralized direction and coordination of emergency operations. According to the Xerox task team, an effective EOC facility must provide adequate work space, accommodate the staff, and be equipped to communicate with field units throughout the complex.

When choosing their EOC site, Xerox personnel pinpointed a location that would be most likely to survive the disasters that threaten the complex. Xerox also has a mobile EOC unit, housed in a 27-foot trailer, that can be put into use quickly if the permanent EOC is inoperable. The EOC trailer is fully equipped with all communication gear and other required equipment.

Whenever a major emergency strikes Xerox El Segundo, staff and management personnel assigned to the EOC take planned response actions. EOC staff members are trained in proper response to earthquakes, fire, explosion, aircraft incidents, hazardous materials incidents, major power failures, and imminent or actual flooding.

The following is a list of EOC staff members and their responsibilities. Each staff member has two alternates to ensure full coverage at all times.

Chief. The EOC chief is responsible for the overall direction and control of all emergency operations, security measures, fire suppression, and recovery and reconstruction operations. It is the chief's responsibility to initiate the provisions of the master disaster plan when necessary.

Assistant chief/security manager. This employee is responsible for maintaining the security integrity of the site, perimeter protection, traffic control, and the communication network. He or she is the principal initiator of all notifications and warnings throughout the entire complex.

In addition, this individual directs communication with all groups responding to emergency situations during disaster operations by staffing the EOC with qualified dispatchers.

Finally, the assistant chief/security manager initiates contact with all staff emergency and disaster personnel at the direction of the EOC chief. He or she coordinates with core-site and satellite-site security operations managers on the assignment of personnel to security duties, fire suppression, and other support as needed.

Operations manager, fire prevention and satellite buildings security. In an emergency, this individual coordinates and assigns all responses for fire suppression efforts for the site and satellite buildings and works closely with security when dispatching fire personnel. He or she also requests, through the security manager, the assignment of trained security officers to response teams as needed.

Planning is also a significant part of this manager's responsibilities. He or she organizes employees as auxiliary fire personnel, training them in the use of all fire suppression and other related equipment, including sprinkler system control valve monitoring.

This individual maintains listings of security personnel with special qualifications, satellite group security personnel phone numbers to be used if off-duty officers are needed, and Xerox Centre floor wardens. Finally, he or she is first alternate to the security manager.

Security operations manager, core site. This individual performs the same duties as the previous manager but at the Xerox core site. He or she also acts as second alternate to the security manager.

Site safety engineer. The site safety engineer is responsible for risk assessment and hazard analysis. He or she works with security, fire, and maintenance managers to ensure that all personnel and equipment are fully used.

This individual also works with construction and environmental engineers to analyze and evaluate damage to site buildings, chemical hazards, and other events. He or she proposes solutions and methods of mitigation to the EOC chief for relay to the management liaison office.

The site safety engineer also assists the security manager and satellite operations manager in the operation of the EOC in the event that the EOC chief is unable to perform the assigned duties.

Maintenance manager and microelectronics center (MEC) coordinator. Preventive maintenance plays a key role in this position. This individual is responsible for all maintenance functions concerning the shutdown of plant utilities, gasoline and propane storage tanks, the ammonia ice plant, and all other hazard areas. He or she also

* determines electrical dangers and makes corrections;

* maintains and tests emergency power generators, portable and fixed lighting, and water supplies;

* assigns personnel, as needed, to damage-control teams to handle debris removal and cleanup;

* maintains a current listing of all emergency equipment and its condition;

* assigns qualified supervisory personnel as group and team leaders;

* coordinates with MEC personnel on the shutdown of the MEC lab;

* assigns personnel to specific shutdown duties and initial collection of damage reports; and

* analyzes and evaluates damage to the lab and buildings, chemical hazards, and other events with construction, engineering, and the environmental engineers.

Damage assessment and recovery coordinator. The individual responsible for damage assessment and recovery coordinates and assigns damage assessment teams, using all available construction and engineering personnel. He or she also evaluates all buildings within the complex (including satellite buildings) to determine damage and availability for use.

This coordinator reports all findings to the EOC assistant manager, and together they evaluate the risks and dangers involved and propose proper actions to the EOC manager.

Environmental engineer. The environmental engineer is responsible for identifying and evaluating possible hazardous chemical spills and releases of toxic gas into the atmosphere. This duty includes inspecting and evaluating hazardous waste materials storage areas, coordinating with the EOC for the dispatch of teams for cleanup, supervising all cleanup operations, evaluating the site, and making recommendations to prevent further incidents.

Transportation coordinator. Xerox's transportation coordinator is responsible for all Xerox-owned or -leased ground transportation equipment, including vans, trucks, cars, and scooters. Other duties include coordinating with maintenance for the conversion of vans and other vehicles to meet immediate needs.

He or she also maintains a log of all motorized vehicles and qualified drivers for various types of equipment (roster includes both work and home phone numbers) and assigns vehicles and drivers as needed to meet all transportation needs.

News and information coordinator. This individual coordinates all status and situation reports within the EOC. He or she also advises Xerox's public information officer of any news that may be available for public release, coordinates all news releases, and acts as liaison with the RACES group.

Radio amateur communications emergency system (RACES). RACES is a group of volunteers organized into small units throughout California. Members are equipped with ham radios and respond to emergency and disaster situations on request.

The group is set up as a means of communication if other communication channels are not functioning. Xerox uses this group to relay and gather disaster information about scattered locations for dissemination to the EOC staff, emergency personnel, employees, and visitors.

Data center disaster coordinator. The data center disaster coordinator is responsible for the data center disaster plan. Due to the importance of salvaging tapes and other media handled in the data center, this location has a separate plan that is included as part of the master plan. The data center disaster coordinator reports directly to the EOC chief.

WHEN ACTIVATION OF THE EOC IS NOT required, Xerox relies on trained field units set up throughout the complex. Security department personnel act as the general emergency response team for the entire site.

The MEC lab is also staffed with a hazmat team assigned to each shift. These teams handle chemical emergencies in the lab and at all other buildings. Two three-person hose crews respond to fire emergencies throughout the complex. In addition, each building is staffed with a three-person fire extinguisher crew and sprinkler valve operators.

Despite a fully equipped EOC and trained emergency staff, Xerox's task team knew the disaster plan would be ineffective without total employee awareness and commitment. To solve this problem, three publications were developed to communicate the master disaster plan to everyone within the Xerox complex.

The Employee Emergency Handbook describes to each Xerox employee his or her responsibilities in the event of an emergency. This handbook contains evacuation maps, emergency phone numbers, and a list of do's and don'ts for each emergency situation.

Emergencies covered in the Employee Emergency Handbook include earthquakes, explosions, fires, bomb threats, terrorist activities, chemical spills, safety hazards, accidents, power failures, and maintenance emergencies.

The handbook, along with a home emergency preparedness planning guide entitled 72 Hours was issued to every employee when the disaster plan went into effect. New employees receive these publications when they join Xerox.

A second publication, the Manager's Emergency Manual, is a supplement to the employee handbook. The two publications are designed to be used together. The manager's manual provides a more detailed description of the manager's role, the EOC and its personnel, and other groups in an emergency situation that may be organized to deal with disasters.

The third publication, Facility Emergency Plan, is given only to personnel with direct responsibility for emergency action. It describes, in detail, the policies and procedures to be used in specific emergencies. Each section of the EOC is thoroughly defined, and job responsibilities are fully explained. A glossary of terms used by the EOC staff is also included in this book.

All three books are presented in looseleaf binders so updates and revisions can be added quickly and economically. The writing, editing, and publishing of these three communication tools took Xerox's security manager, office of emergency services manager, and safety engineer approximately two-and-a-half years to complete.

In addition to the books, training exercises are considered essential at all levels to make personnel ready for a potential disaster and encourage proper emergency response.

Xerox's first major disaster exercise took place in November 1986. This earthquake training drill involved several other local businesses and industries. At that time, the Xerox EOC was activated, and problems were addressed on a real-time basis. Since then, Xerox has held a number of hazardous material drills and has experienced two minor incidents that were effectively handled by the company's hazmat teams.

Less than a year after its first exercise, Xerox was faced with the opportunity to test the new plan. On October 1, 1987, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter scale hit Whittier, CA. EOC personnel at Xerox responded in a timely manner, checking all buildings for damage and reporting back to the senior EOC staff member on-site. No major damage was reported, and full implementation of the emergency plan was unnecessary.

However, Xerox's most significant training drill was held in April 1988, which was declared Earthquake Awareness Month by the governor of California. April 11-15 was designated Business and Industrial Earthquake Awareness Week, and in response to these declarations the Xerox El Segundo Office of Emergency Services planned a full week of employee awareness and preparedness activities. Posters and handouts were available, and displays of various community emergency services were set up throughout the complex.

The EOC exercise simulated one of the worst possible emergencies that could affect Xerox: a major earthquake in southern California. The complex could expect extensive property damage, fire, and hazardous materials spills, all of which would be further aggravated by aftershocks.

An earthquake of such magnitude would exceed the response capabilities of local agencies and leave Xerox with no outside emergency resources, thus making it necessary for Xerox to provide its own damage control and disaster relief. The earthquake exercise tested the EOC's ability to evaluate, assess, and react to a multitude of problems occurring simultaneously or in rapid succession.

Xerox's commitment to emergency preparedness benefited not only the company but also the entire community. While working on the master disaster plan, Xerox's office of emergency services manager and safety engineer became important factors in the revitalization of the El Segundo combined city, business, and industrial preparedness planning committee. Through the efforts of these two employees, Xerox became the driving force behind establishing a city/industry emergency notification system (ENS), which began operation on April 15, 1988.

The ENS is designed so that one phone call to the City of El Segundo Office of Emergency Services immediately puts into operation a pager/printer notification system to alert all subscriber members simultaneously. This enables subscribers to take whatever actions their emergency and management staffs feel are appropriate. This notification system helps ensure that all sectors of the community will react quickly and effectively to any type of emergency.

Diane L. Viera is manager of the media and visitor relations section of Factory Mutual Engineering and Research in Norwood, MA.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Viera, Diane L.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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