Gather Information

Accurate information is critical in determining actions to be taken at a hazardous materials incident. Information to be gathered in the decision making process includes the hazardous material or materials released, the container they are or were in, and the environment. It is necessary to identify the hazardous material(s) before mitigation tactics can be determined. Identification of the product tells the IC what the hazard or hazards are to response personnel and the public. At the very least, the hazard class of the material must be identified.

Estimate Incident Course and Harm

Once enough information has been obtained, then the IC must determine what the course, that is what is the hazardous material likely to do and harm, which determines vulnerability to responders, the public, and the environment. Then a thorough risk benefit analysis needs to be conducted to determine what actions should be taken (Figure 2.74).

Determine Strategic Goals

Based upon information gathered and potential course and harm determined, the IC must set up strategic goals to accomplish to safely mitigate the incident. Strategic goals are very broad in nature. An example might


A thorough risk benefit analysis needs to be conducted to determine what actions should be taken

Figure 2.74 A thorough risk benefit analysis needs to be conducted to determine what actions should be taken.

be to prevent a hazardous material from reaching a vulnerable population. A number of options may available to accomplish this goal, but those are determined in the next step of the process.

Assess Tactical Options and Resources

To facilitate the implementation of Strategic Goals, each option available needs to be evaluated to determine the best option given the circumstances of the incident and the resources required to accomplish them. Options are not viable if the resources are not available to carry them out.

Plan and Implement Actions

The plan and implementation of actions will help convert the ICs ideas into actions. It identifies control methodology and personnel responsibility. The plan also assists with plan communication, transfer of command, and incident documentation. It will be specific, effective, efficient, and flexible. Plan of Action considerations must take into account existing response plans. These include the LEPC Plan, and the responding agencies Emergency Response Plan.

Evaluate Operational Effectiveness

Determine the effectiveness of the Plan of Action. Is the operation going as planned? Does it conform to standard operating procedures and guidance, standards, and safety requirements? Evaluation also determines possible errors and their severity.

Review Entire Process

Periodically review the Plan of Action, particularly during long incidents. Determine if the plan is working ok? If it is, no changes are necessary. If the plan is not working as intended, it can be modified or scrapped entirely and a new plan developed. Both options will then be run through the entire GEDAPER process again.

GEDAPER is very similar model to DECIDE but illustrates the cyclic decision-making process. Basically information that is fed into the decision model is the same. GEBMO is a hazardous materials behavior model to figure out potential course and harm in order to determine objectives. Responders need to work with each or one of their own to determine which works best for them. What is important is that a decision model is used. None of these models will be of much help at an incident if responders are not familiar with them and have used them in table top or full-scale exercises. Another way to become familiar with the models is to apply them to historical incidents. You can see if the incident outcome may have been different if models had been available and used when these incidents occurred.

These are examples of current models that are available that have been developed by others. No one model has to be followed. You can make up a model of your own that better meets the needs of your jurisdiction. The important thing is that you use some kind of decision making model to deal with a hazardous materials release successfully.

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