Outlining a Crisis Management Plan for a Community: Crisis Planning in Michigan

By Erber, Nicholaus | Michigan Journal of Counseling, Spring-Summer 2014 | Go to article overview

Outlining a Crisis Management Plan for a Community: Crisis Planning in Michigan


Erber, Nicholaus, Michigan Journal of Counseling


Crisis management requires a crisis management plan, which is developed by a crisis management team, and which trained professionals implement in their respective areas of crisis response (Crandall, Parnell, & Spillman, 2010; James & Gilliland, 2013). During a crisis, the environment is often chaotic and unpredictable, added to the already devastated people and systems suffering the crisis. Order and structure can provide a sense of safety after a crisis for everyone involved in the recovery effort. Crisis response also requires crisis management teams to consider ethical, legal and multicultural challenges that are revealed during a crisis, which are often amplified versions of precrisis issues (Andrulis, Siddiqui, & Gantner, 2007; Collins & Pieterse, 2007; Consoli, Kim, & Meyer, 2008). Counselors utilize crisis intervention models combined with evidence-based practices in order to implement recovery strategies for individuals, families, and communities on several scales. In this paper, I will discuss several crisis management issues related to planning and implementation that can be applied to small- and large-scale crises.

Crisis Management Team Strategy

Before a crisis management plan can be developed, a Crisis Management Team must be assembled from community leaders and stakeholders from all aspects of the community (Beaulieu, n.d.; Hildreth, 2007; James & Gilliland, 2013; Massey & Larsen, 2006). Leaders from various levels of society ideally compose a crisis management team, from local authorities to state and national agencies, and possibly international organizations. Local, state, national, and international levels of a crisis management plan can be developed to address crises and disasters of varying scope and size (James & Gilliland, 2013). A strong crisis management team would have members from several stakeholder groups across organizations to address threats at appropriate levels.

A crisis management team at the community level would be developed with local leaders from businesses, healthcare, police, fire, social welfare agencies, local media, utility and telecommunications organizations (Beaulieu, n.d.). Business leaders can provide financial support and expertise in managing the cash flow of recovery funds from state, national, and international organizations and government (Crandall et al., 2010). Healthcare providers can be organized to provide medical and mental health interventions across the spectrum of healthcare. Police and fire can coordinate rescue and emergency management at the site of the disaster. Social welfare agencies can provide food, clothing, and shelter services through a coordinated effort. Lastly, local media, utility and telecommunications organizations can provide ways to maintain communication channels throughout the disaster and get the infrastructure back up. Community members should also be a part of the stakeholder group assembled to develop the crisis management team. Once the stakeholder group assembles, members of the crisis management team can be identified, and authority can be outlined based on various disaster scenarios.

A crisis management team at the state level would be developed in a similar fashion but would have a much broader scope of responsibility. A state-level crisis management team would be made up of leaders from the same groups identified above, but the leaders would represent geographic regions, thereby adding to the diversity of the team (Hildreth, 2007). Organizations across a state will likely have access to a variety of important assets that could be useful in managing a statewide crisis. It is also likely that the state government body would manage a statewide crisis management team.

National crisis management teams exist already in the form of the Federal Emergency Management Authority and the various groups that fall under their purview in the United States. These also work in conjunction with international organizations such as the Red Cross and Amnesty International. …

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