One of the elements of great commanders is their skill in operational planning. Taking any given task and applying all of your knowledge, skills and abilities and then turn somebody’s mess into a piece of cake. Now this does not happen by chance, there is a method to their madness. So just how does the new young commander become the great one.
When you are promoted to a command position, there are several ideas that come into your mind. But what are you to do on a boring day? You are paid the big bucks now for handling bad days, start planning now for your performance. First is that now you have achieved your goal you can relax. How wrong you are here! Now is the time for more intensive training and preparation. Are you up on all actions plans and protocols? Do you know the high risk organizations/businesses in your district? If you have a medical center or hospital you have response plans to familiarize yourself with. School and higher education campuses are another area of concern for action planning. Tourism locations are other points where a call can turn into the lead story on the news.
You are now what I call a solution provider. People call the police when their world is falling apart. When the situation becomes too complex for a patrol officer or deputy then they call a supervisor. If it requires more horsepower, then you are the answer. Therefore you are now a solution provider to all. Planning on the fly is what you make the big bucks for now you may think. However, there will be new and uncharted areas that you have to respond to. Current action plans and existing protocols may be a foundation but may not cut it. Now is the time to face this situation while it still can be planned for without pressure rather than responded to under stress.
Even if the response for the crisis de’ jour does not have an action or operational protocol, your familiarity with others will give you a base foundation. There are vast similarities to all of these; it is the special nuances of each business that create the special applications.
On your boring days or calendars that are clear start reviewing the contingency plans of the critical incidents that you are most probably going to respond to. After these are thoroughly reviewed and you have a working confidence level, time for the next step. Research the seasonal incidents that affect your jurisdiction. No better time to review hurricane planning than in the winter and no better time to cover winter storm response than in the fall. The next hurdles are the catastrophic levels of response. Natural disasters and acts of terrorism or the really bad day comes to town. Know your local emergency management staff and be extremely familiar with your own emergency action plans/operations.
But what if then thinking
My marital arts Sensei Vance used to scream at me “what to do, what to do” while he proceeded to hand me my butt. This was a sensory overload but it instilled what I call ‘but, what, if then thinking’. But what if this and then could I do that...this is more than plan A, B and C to higher levels. Be constantly thinking of variables and inject them into your plans. I know you always want A Watch to be working when it hits the fan but you have F Troop working instead. This is weak link training, train them up! Weather is a major variable; add in heavy rains, snow or what is your worse case to this plan. Seasonal issues, school is in or out, commuting traffic or a road repair with detour. Put in these game changers that make you rethink the basic plans.
Practice going over plans and procedures but make a few short cuts. If you have to have operational orders and other forms have their templates ready. No time now any better to make them up and have them on your workstation and on a thumb drive. Familiarize your staff with the forms that you are going to use. Again do not reinvent the wheel; most in the incident command world have customized their own from the ICS forms. Go to Federal Emergency Management Administration’s web site in the ICS resource center for templates. http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/ICSResource/ICSResCntr_Forms.htm