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

Continuity of Operations

Monitoring the Status of Critical Functions During an Emergency


This tool shares resources that will assist a local health department (LHD) to set up a system of collecting information during an emergency regarding the status of critical services. This tool presents a color-coded method, in which programs will classify and report the status of their service as green (functional), yellow (functional with operational challenges), or red (not operational). This way, management has timely information for decisions regarding continuity of operations.

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.

Program Functional Status Form

Program Functional Status Form

COOP Status Update – Rollup

Emails activating the program status reporting process

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

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

  • A program functional status form adapted for your agency’s needs
  • Staff who know how to fill out the program functional status form
  • A reporting schedule for your agency
  • A procedure for collecting and sharing information during an emergency

What You Need Before Starting This Work

  • A list of your agency’s critical services.
  • Points of contact for (i.e. those in charge of) all critical programs and sites.

Steps to Completion

  1. Adapt the program functional status form to your operations. What kinds of status information do you need to track from your sites and services? What factors could impact your ability to continue essential services beyond the next 24 hours? Etc.
  2. Identify points of contact, persons, in the programs and sites that will need to complete this form. Train these individuals how to complete and submit these status forms during emergencies.
  3. Establish a reporting schedule that is appropriate for your agency. For example, you may want to collect this information in time for it to be included in your situation reports.
  4. Train your leaders to expect the summary report and to use it during continuity of critical services decision-making in an emergency.
  5. Document the procedures used for collecting and sharing this information in your continuity of operations plan. Include procedures for ceasing to collect information when the situation no longer merits this level of reporting. During times when the situation is rapidly changing, you may want to conduct this assessment more than once a day (hourly if possible) and taper off when the situation stabilizes.