Sustaining Critical Services - Continuity of Operations - A Toolkit for Public Health

Continuity of Operations

Status Reporting: Additional Information

If You Only Have a Little Time

Don’t take shortcuts for this step. This step helps you create a process to communicate with your sites and programs about the status of their operations and ensures that your leaders are prepared to use this information to improve decision-making during emergencies. So, you either have this process or you don’t, there is no in between here.

If You Have More Time to Spend

See, If You Have Just a Little Time to Spend.

Where This Leads You

  • Following this tool, you should test and get users familiar with this process as part of a COOP exercise (see Exercising Your Continuity of Operations Plans), so when emergency strikes all are fully-prepared.
  • Incorporate and link this reporting process into your facility damage assessment reporting process.
  • Decide on and document a way to share this information with partners and leaders who require updates on operational status during an emergency.

Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Don’t rely on only one method to collect and process this information in an emergency. Establish redundant methods for collecting and sharing this information in case primary communication systems are down.
  • Don’t keep the information to yourself. Make sure to share the information you collect during an emergency. Determine ahead of time who will receive the summarized reports and make sure they know how to use them to support decision making for operations.
  • Don’t use this as a replacement for a damage assessment process.  While site damage assessments won’t be needed in major disease outbreaks on pandemics, they will be needed in other types of emergencies, like in severe weather. In these instances, sites will need to report up through incident command about any damage to physical infrastructure.
  • Don’t use the program status form to document this information, compile a separate damage assessment form, for all damage-related issues.

How You Know You Got It Right

  • During a snow day, in an early morning conference call your agency leadership team refers to the summary report to decide which sites to close.
  • You use this reporting process during an emergency and are able to identify a critical service that is short-staffed before the situation reaches a critical point. This allows you to redeploy and train staff to help fill the gap ahead of time, allowing the service to continue without interruption.

Considerations for Rural Health Departments

This tool can be used by a wide-range of staff from your duty officer or on call person to the Director – and is used to assess the status of agency services in any event – large or small – that has the potential to impact your ability to deliver critical services.