When reviewing the emergency preparedness program, we wondered: What trainings are required? Are they delayed due to the pandemic?

Emergency preparedness plans require facility-based and community-based risk assessments to ensure facility operations continue and that the facility meets the needs of its patients. Based on the risks identified, facilities must develop and maintain training and testing. The program must be reviewed and updated at least annually. 

During the pandemic, some facilities may have missed their annual reviews. Nevertheless, the requirement remains — so now is a great time to review your program.

Emergency preparedness trainings must cover emergency preparedness policies and procedures for all new employees, volunteers and individuals providing services (including agency staff). Additionally, facilities must conduct and document ongoing emergency preparedness training twice yearly and with revisions. Ideally, trainings include lessons learned from recent exercises or real-life emergencies. Staff must demonstrate knowledge of emergency procedures. 

The facility must also conduct tests, including unannounced drills. That component must have: 1) a full-scale exercise, preferably community-based, or facility-based 2) an additional full-scale or tabletop exercise with facilitator-led group discussion; and analysis of the facility’s response. 

If the facility experiences an emergency requiring emergency plan activation, the facility is exempt from exercises for one year afterward. When analyzing the facility’s response of a real emergency or exercise, consider whether revisions to the emergency preparedness plan are needed. 

For further details, see Appendix Z of the State Operations Manual.