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

Continuity of Operations

Contingency Planning for Critical Services


This tool shares resources to help your local health department (LHD) develop contingency plans for critical services.

Tools and Samples

Aid the user in working through the toolkit we have broken out the following documents into two formats that we hope you will find helpful.

Tools: Documents that are ready to be used with little to no modification needed. They are designed to be off-the-shelf products that can be completed and used in your individual planning process.

Samples:  Documents that we have created in order to help guide you through completing the above referenced tools. They contain both real world and hypothetical scenarios that we have utilized to illustrate how the tool can look once it is completed.

Critical Activities Planning Worksheet

Contingency Plan Outline

Contingency plan

FEMA Continuity Evaluation Tool - Version 6, “Program Plans and Procedures,” pages 5-9

If done properly, completion of this tool should result in:
  • Contingency plans for each mission-critical service.
  • Awareness among staff of contingency plans and where they can be located.

What You Need Before Starting This Work

  • Your agency’s list of mission-critical services (created in Mission-Critical Services).
  • Points of contact, those in charge of providing each service.
  • An understanding of how and when outside support services will be provided to your agency in an emergency. For example, how long will it take after an earthquake for your building to receive a safety inspection and be cleared for reentry? Or, how long will your wide area network (WAN) be out of commission?
  • An understanding of your Information Technology group’s data backup or disaster recovery procedures.

Steps to Completion

  1. Interview those in charge of priority 1 and 2 services, as well as those who perform the services on a daily basis. Ask them about and document methods they use to sustain their services during an emergency. Use the Critical Activities Planning Worksheet as a guide for the interview.
  2. After interviewing priority 1 and 2 employees, take the data you recorded on the Critical Activities Planning Worksheet and turn that data into a narrative for each mission-critical service (use the template provided). Make sure to include in this plan the who, what, when, where, why and how of assuring the continuity of the priority 1 or 2 service.
  3. Now, you can familiarize staff responsible for mission-critical services with the contingency plan. Provide training and acquire IT support, as necessary to implement your plan.
  4. Collect all of the contingency plans for your agency’s critical services and check them against one another to ensure they don’t conflict.
  5. Add the contingency plans as a procedural annex to your COOP plan.