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

Continuity of Operations

Integrating Continuity of Operations with Incident Command


This tool shares resources to help your local health department (LHD) better integrate management and oversight of continuity of operations (COOP) with emergency response operations in times of emergencies.

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.

COOP Lead Training Guide

ICS Org Chart with COOP Role

Continuity Operations Section SOP

COOP Activation Protocols

COOP Section SOP

FEMA Continuity Evaluation Tool - Version 6, “Operational Phases and Implementation,” pages 48-55

If done properly, completion of this tool should result in:

  • Definition of a continuity of operations Lead role for emergency responses.
  • Integration of the COOP Lead role into your Incident Command System (ICS).
  • A job action sheet for the COOP Lead role.
  • Improved communication and coordination between those managing continuity of operations and those managing the emergency response during times of emergencies or disasters.

What You Need Before Starting This Work

  • Your agency’s emergency operating procedures.
  • Your agency’s Incident Command System (ICS) organizational chart.

Steps to Completion

  1. Examine the method your agency uses to coordinate COOP with response operations during an emergency. This examination should reveal areas where coordination can be improved.
    1. If no improvement is needed, stop here and move on to the Managing Resources Across the Response-Continuity Continuum section
    2. If improvements can be made, consider creating a continuity of operations Lead role to represent and lead COOP activities, and progress to Step 2.

  2. Define and implement the COOP Lead role by revising your ICS organizational chart, writing a job action sheet, working this role into existing resource management and workforce deployment procedures, etc. See PHSKC’s ICS Org Chart and COOP Section SOP as examples of what these could look like.

  3. Update your emergency response plan, continuity of operations plan and emergency response standard operating procedures (SOPs) to reference the new COOPLead role.

  4. Train those who will work with the COOP Lead—such as ICS command and general staff, division and section managers, human resources, and others—See PHSKC’s training packet for a COOP lead as an example.

    1. The COOP Lead’s role and responsibilities;
    2. Circumstances under which it will be activated;
    3. How the role integrates with the larger ICS structure; and
    4. How COOP information, decisions, and support will flow up and down the chain of command when the position is activated.

  5. Test the change in your next exercise and implement needed improvements.