Evaluating the Reliability of Emergency Response Systems for Large-Scale Incident Operations

Overview

The ability to measure emergency preparedness-to predict the likely performance of emergency response systems in future events-is critical for policy analysis in homeland security. Yet it remains difficult to know how prepared a response system is to deal with large-scale incidents, whether it be a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or industrial or transportation accident. This research draws on the fields of systems analysis and engineering to apply the concept of system reliability to the evaluation of ...

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Evaluating the Reliability of Emergency Response Systems for Large-Scale Incident Operations

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Overview

The ability to measure emergency preparedness-to predict the likely performance of emergency response systems in future events-is critical for policy analysis in homeland security. Yet it remains difficult to know how prepared a response system is to deal with large-scale incidents, whether it be a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or industrial or transportation accident. This research draws on the fields of systems analysis and engineering to apply the concept of system reliability to the evaluation of emergency response systems. The authors describe a method for modeling an emergency response system; identifying how individual parts of the system might fail; and assessing the likelihood of each failure and the severity of its effects on the overall response effort. The authors walk the reader through two applications of this method: a simplified example in which responders must deliver medical treatment to a certain number of people in a specified time window, and a more complex scenario involving the release of chlorine gas. The authors also describe an exploratory analysis in which they parsed a set of after-action reports describing real-world incidents, to demonstrate how this method can be used to quantitatively analyze data on past response performance. The authors conclude with a discussion of how this method of measuring emergency response system reliability could inform policy discussion of emergency preparedness, how system reliability might be improved, and the costs of doing so.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780833050052
  • Publisher: RAND Corporation
  • Publication date: 8/16/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface iii

Figures ix

Tables xi

Summary xiii

Acknowledgments xxi

Abbreviations xxiii

Chapter 1 Introduction: Measurement and Emergency Preparedness 1

Public Expectations and Our (Imperfect) Ability to Measure Emergency Preparedness 2

Response Reliability as a Different Approach to Preparedness Assessment 4

About This Study and This Document 7

Chapter 2 Defining and Demonstrating Response Reliability Analysis 9

Defining the Analytical Process for Response Reliability Assessment 9

Component and System Reliability Analysis: An Overview 10

Adapting Reliability Analysis Techniques to the Evaluation of Emergency Response Systems 12

A Simplified Response Example for Defining and Illustrating Response Reliability 20

Step 1 Define and Map the System 23

Step 2 Identify Failure Modes 25

Step 3 Assess the Probability of Occurrence of Different Failure Modes 26

Step 4 Assess the Failure Mode Effects and Their Severity 29

Exploring Quantitative Representations of Response System Reliability 31

Response Reliability Measures Applied to Preparedness Policy Problems 41

Prioritizing Possible Preparedness Investments 44

Making Trade-Offs Between Actions to Improve Performance for Large-Scale Incidents Versus Smaller-Scale, More Common Events 44

Comparing the Cost-Effectiveness of Different Preparedness Improvement Options 45

How Much Preparedness-and Response Reliability-Is Enough? 49

Chapter 3 Describing a Chlorine Release Scenario and Relevant Response Parameters 51

Describing a Chlorine Release Scenario 52

Considering the Capabilities and Requirements for Responding to a Chlorine Release 53

Chapter 4 A Simplified Model of an Emergency Response to a Chlorine Release 59

Top-Level Structure of Our Model of a Chlorine Response 60

Detailed Discussion of Two Exemplary Model Components 63

System-Level Incident Management 65

Response to Victims' Needs 70

Discussion 74

Chapter 5 Exploring What Can Go Wrong During a Chlorine Response Operation: Identifying Relevant Failure Modes 75

Building a Failure Tree for a Response Operation 77

Overview of Our Chlorine Response Failure Trees 80

Detailed Discussion of Two Exemplary Failure Trees 82

Establish and Operate Emergency Operations Center 83

Medical Treatment and Transport 85

Discussion 87

Chapter 6 Assessing the Probability, Effects, and Severity of Failure Modes: An Exploratory Analysis Using Response After-Action Reports 95

Exploring Failure Modes' Probability of Occurrence 97

Description of the After-Action Report Dataset 97

Data Analysis 100

Results 102

Discussion 105

Exploring Failure Modes' Effects and Severity 107

Response Interdependencies and Failure Consequences 108

Considering Individual Failure Effects and Severity in Our Chlorine Response Analysis 108

Looking at Effects and Potential Severity in One Response Case Study 110

Discussion 116

Chapter 7 Concluding Observations 119

Appendixes

A Approximating Response Reliability Curves 123

B Correspondence Between the Chlorine Response Model Used in This Analysis and Other Ways of Categorizing or Organizing Response Operations 129

C Description of Components of the RAND Chlorine Response Model Not Covered in the Text 133

D Failure Trees for All Elements of the Response Model 149

E Counts of Failure Modes Identified per Analyzed After-Action Report 185

F List of After-Action Reports Reviewed and Analyzed 187

Bibliography 193

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