Evaluating the Reliability of Emergency Response Systems for Large-Scale Incident Operations
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RAND Chlorine Response Operation Model
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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.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Measurement and Emergency Preparedness
Defining and Demonstrating Response Reliability Analysis
Describing a Chlorine Release Scenario and Relevant Response Parameters
A Simplified Model of an Emergency Response to a Chlorine Release
Exploring What Can Go Wrong During a Chlorine Response Operation: Identifying Relevant Failure Modes
Assessing the Probability, Effects, and Severity of Failure Modes: An Exploratory Analysis Using Response After-Action Reports
Approximating Response Reliability Curves
Correspondence Between the Chlorine Response Model Used in This Analysis and Other Ways of Categorizing or Organizing Response Operations
Description of Components of the RAND Chlorine Response Model Not Covered in the Text
Failure Trees for All Elements of the Response Model
Counts of Failure Modes Identified per Analyzed After-Action Report
List of After-Action Reports Reviewed and Analyzed
Research conducted by
This research was sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and was conducted under the auspices of the RAND Homeland Security and Defense Center, a joint center of the RAND National Security Research Division and RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment.
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