to a community’s level of preparedness; readiness should be seen as a process rather than a state.
Preparedness requires not only numerous specific capabilities, typically the responsibilities of independent offices, agencies, and institutions, but also seamless coordination of those capabilities into a coherent response. The former may be envisioned as the teeth of a comb, the latter as the base or backbone of the comb.
Information and the ability to acquire, process, and appropriately distribute it to essential sites and personnel are central to the effective management of critical incidents including terrorism in its many forms.
Evaluation is an exercise designed to guide the distribution of local, state, and federal resources. Evaluations should be valued and understood as an opportunity for local communities to determine the areas in need of improvement and support rather than as a test of communities’ self-reliance.
Evaluation by OEP should be a multilevel process that includes (1) periodic review of documents and records, (2) observation of community-initiated exercises and drills, and (3) on-site assessment. The committee views the on-site assessment as comprising both interviews of individuals about specific capabilities and a scenario-driven group interaction focused on cooperation and coordination.
A relatively small subset of the nearly 500 preparedness indicators identified in the Phase I report (Institute of Medicine, 2001) can be used to identify critical areas in need of improvement for a given community.
As noted earlier in the report, in the absence of any proper control cities or pre-MMRS data, it will be impossible to unequivocally assign credit to OEP for high states of preparedness. Most of the larger cities have received training and equipment from the U.S. Department of Defense or the U.S. Department of Justice, some have received grants and training from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and all have spent time and money from state and local budgets. The MMRS program’s emphasis on multiagency, multijurisdictional planning undoubtedly played a major role in increasing preparedness in many cities, but no large city could become well prepared solely as a result of the relatively meager funding provided by the OEP contracts.
The remainder of this chapter describes a three-element evaluation procedure built upon these principles. The three elements are review of written documents and data, a site visit by a team of peer reviewers, and observations at exercises and drills. The three procedures are complementary means of analyzing the community’s response capabilities, and the next two sections focus on first identifying a subset of essential capabilities and then specifying preparedness criteria for each. The chapter con-