Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters on the planet. In fact from 2006 – 2015, total flood insurance claims averaged more than $1.9 billion per year. We’ve all seen the damage – in the past 5 years, all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods (FloodSmart.gov). As a result, it’s imperative for communities and people alike to prepare for floods, even if it’s on a smaller scale.

It has been proven through training that we can develop techniques to handle extraordinary circumstances, make more intelligent decisions under extreme pressure, and successfully mitigate the impacts of a disaster. But who needs to be trained? See our “Who’s it For?” video for a breakdown and keep reading. 

Dealing with any flood emergency situation is first a state, town, and community management problem. Therefore, it’s crucial for management to perform pre-planning exercises as well as examine all aspects of a flood’s impact and arrange methods of responding to, and dealing with, a flood before it happens.

But let’s be honest, everyone in the surrounding area is affected by a flood, so it’s important for everyone to have some knowledge. Get the American Red Cross Flood Checklist Here

Pre-planning is used to design methods of dealing with anticipated emergency situations and locations, to enhance the capabilities of rescue teams, and to create a safer scene during incident responses.

Developing a Pre-plan

The first stage to developing a pre-plan is performing a hazard assessment. Rescue teams can’t begin to plan responses unless they understand the location and nature of incidents to which they may be required to respond. Records of previous incidents, both recent and historic, are vital sources of information and should be gathered for reference. Rainfall and river level data are also great pieces of information to understand.

While planning a water and flood incident response, it’s important for managers to consider the following four elements (in order, to be more efficient):

  1. Management
  2. Personnel
  3. Training
  4. Equipment

Pre-planning works much more efficiently if management first identifies key personnel to lead a rescue team, then creates a core team with sufficient numbers to support it. Each team needs appropriate training to deal with specific hazards and situations previously identified by management. As a result of the training, the team is able to make educated recommendations on the best tactics for the situation.

Once the basics of the pre-plan have been established, other aspects need to be identified, such as:

  1. Communications
  2. Mutual Aid
  3. Welfare
  4. Shelter
  5. Transportation

Some great information is provided by FEMA, How to Prepare for a Flood, OSHA, and many other online resources.

Site Planning

Once general pre-planning is complete and an overall response plan is determined, rescue teams need to determine site-specific response plans for high risk areas and locations within the agency’s jurisdiction; areas such as roads, rivers, and low-head dams and sluices prone to flooding. Information to be gathered on each site includes:

  1. Location
  2. Maps and plans
  3. Access routes
  4. Communication issues (a.k.a. black spots)
  5. Specific risks (a.k.a. electrical, waste hazards, etc.)
  6. Special equipment requirements
  7. Specialist training requirements
  8. Team response plan

Once the plan, information, and tactics are understood, managers and directors can determine the management, personnel, training, and equipment requirements needed to provide an effective response.

Additionally, site-specific pre-plans need to include detailed information about the area’s transport options, water features and hazards, access, anchor points, and provisions for welfare and decontamination.

Developing mutual aid agreements with surrounding areas is key to providing an effective response for major events and events specific to mutually patrolled areas.

National Incident Management System

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) was developed in part to facilitate mutual aid between different jurisdictions and disciplines. NIMS benefits include:

  1. Unified approach to incident management
  2. Standard command and management structures
  3. Emphasis on preparedness, mutual aid and resource management

Click Here for more information on the National Incident Management System.

Compliance and Technical Assistance

The Incident Command System (ICS) is mandated for all first responders by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the authority of two Presidential Directives. In 2004, DHS established the National Integration Center (NIC) Incident Management Systems Division as the lead federal entity to coordinate NIMS compliance.

A major component of NIMS is the Incident Command System (ICS). The modular format of ICS makes it the ideal system for efficient tactical operations on all swiftwater and flood rescues.

Click Here: for more information about the Incident Command System.

About Earth Experience & Rescue3

Earth Experience offers Rescue3 Flood Awareness training online, where students can receive a Flood Awareness Certification in as little as 2 days. We make information available anytime, on any device. Personnel are able to learn on their own time – building skills that drive Flood understanding, communication, and best practices for Flood and Swiftwater Rescue. The Rescue3 solution allows both support personnel and first responders to become certified at the awareness level in as little as 2 days. See the Flood Awareness Course Information to learn more.