Crisis Management and Emergency Preparedness Planning

By Steve Saltzgiver, Fleet Success Ambassador

During the recent Hurricane Ian, we were all reminded of the necessity of crisis management and emergency preparedness planning. This is especially important for fleet operations – that need to try to keep running throughout these emergencies. Upon reading several articles on this topic, below are a few examples of how other fleet management organizations prepare in advance for various crises.

Below is a list of key activities discovered from several articles to get your fleet emergency preparedness plan started.

  1. Put together a diverse and collaborative crisis planning team of various people.
    • Executives,
    • Risk and Safety,
    • Purchasing,
    • Fleet team,
    • Key suppliers (vehicles, parts, fuel, rental, etc.),
    • Public Safety (Fire and police),
    • Public Works and Operations,
    • Coroner,
    • Local utility representatives,
  2. Assemble a list of the potential risks your fleet may face.
    • Earthquakes,
    • Wind events (Hurricanes, Cyclones, Haboobs, Tornados, etc.),
    • Terrorist events (bombs, mass shootings, toxins),
    • Multiple vehicle accidents,
    • Fires,
  3. Draft an emergency preparedness plan
    • Thoroughly define your goals and objectives
      • Strategic level,
      • Tactical level,
    • Prepare emergency response communication plans (e.g., phone trees)
      • Phone numbers (cell, landlines, satellite),
      • SMS messaging,
      • Email addresses,
      • Etc.
    • Mutual aid response to assist neighbors
    • Present draft plan to entire team and leadership for approval
  1. Implement and distribute the final plan
  2. Review and update the plan, as needed.



Oakland, California

  • In terms of people, a fleet department’s crisis plan includes after‐hours shifts and a 24-hour A/B shift operation model for extended emergency operations,
  • Protocol includes plans to provide vehicular and contract vendor support,
  • Mobile repair unit and a mobile fuel truck are on standby to ensure firefighting equipment has uninterrupted capabilities,
  • The fleet maintains its own vehicle fuel sites and supplies for emergencies or disasters,
  • Create a response manual and checklist along with after‐hours contacts, vendors, and procedures as references to assist in response management,
  • Severe weather preparation includes readying seasonal equipment and expediting repairs to equipment that will be needed for the response,
  • Expedite PMs and repairs on key equipment that may be needed,
  • Use GPS – which plays a key role in tracking dispatch, location, and use of equipment during and after a natural disaster.

Knoxville and its Neighbors

  • Works with police, fire, rescue, and public works,
  • Readies trash and debris removal equipment after a tornado,
  • Supports police responsible for evacuations during wildfires,
  • Gives fire department personnel needed for travel in the state or out of state to provide mutual aid,
  • Ensures vehicles are PM’d before leaving, coordinate as much as we can, and
  • Makes sure people have a fuel card,
  • Readies emergency message boards and flashing sign alerts.

Tallahassee, Florida,

  • Divides fleet employees into two shifts (A/B) to cover department operational hours,
  • Accommodations are made for employees selected to stay during an event,
  • Fleet management’s Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) calls for supplies to be stocked and for the fleet’s 12 service trucks to be fueled and prepared for use,
  • Service trucks sent home with employees, which improves response times,
  • Provides fuel cards to first responders, opens fuel cards up for purchases beyond fuel so that users can buy food, drinks, or other necessary supplies as needed,
  • Critical equipment is inspected, repaired, and returned to customers before the event happens,
  • Teamwork and clear communication are central to the fleet’s response plan,
  • Fleet has opportunities to practice its crisis management plan by assisting other fleets nearby.

Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA)

Here are a few planning tips by FEMA to keep your fleet ready should you encounter an unplanned crisis. Every emergency and crisis begins with a well-designed plan. Below are the steps outlined by FEMA:



As stated in the introduction, each plan should prepare for and includes strategic-level planning activities. Strategic-level planning provides a framework for guiding homeland security activities. Stakeholders may choose to focus on a significant issue or mission area (e.g., climate change, cybersecurity, Prevention). These strategies establish the basic conceptual structure—such as governance, priorities, doctrine, and desired end-state—for a particular issue or mission. Below are some strategic-level planning examples provided by FEMA:

Once your fleet has identified its strategic-level planning objectives then it should define its operational-level planning which are those objectives and priorities identified through strategic-level planning and an understanding of the risks which affect your fleet organization. Below is an example of these operational-level plan provided by FEMA to help you understand and design your own:

Finally, the last step suggested by FEMA is to design and draft tactical-level plans for your fleet organization. Tactical plans focus on managing resources such as personnel and equipment that play a direct role in an incident or event.

Pre-incident tactical planning, based on existing operational plans, provides the opportunity to pre-identify personnel, equipment, and other execution needs. Tactical plans often outline the detailed actions necessary to accomplish goals identified in an operational plan.

An example of this type of planning occurs for special events or venues, wherein planners determine resource assignments, routes, and staging for potential incidents in advance. Planning teams then fill identified gaps through various means, such as mutual aid.

Tactical plans can integrate the capabilities and resources of multiple stakeholders. The following are examples of these tactical-level plans provided by FEMA:


It’s been said, “Fail to Plan, or Plan to Fail”. This is sage advice for all fleet management organizations to ensure an emergency preparedness plan and crisis plan are in place before it is needed. There are myriad examples of emergency and disaster plans available on the Internet for your fleet to access and review as examples to prepare your own plan.

The bottom line is fleet plays an integral role in the planning, support, and execution of your organization’s emergency preparedness plan during any crisis. Supplying expert technicians, fuel and parts, and reliable equipment is key to responding to any crisis that your organization encounters. Always be prepared!

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