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EMERGENCY LEGAL PREPAREDNESS EXERCISE. MIKE COX ATTORNEY GENERAL STATE OF MICHIGAN. Introduction. “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.” Dwight Eishenhower “Practice is the best of all instructors.” Publilus Syrus (100 BC).

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emergency legal preparedness exercise






“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”

Dwight Eishenhower

“Practice is the best of all instructors.”

Publilus Syrus (100 BC)

introduction con t
Emergencies and disasters are, by definition, unexpected and are likely to require a quick response from various governmental agencies. As lawyers for the state, we are responsible for advising state agencies in particular. But in the event of an emergency, we must guide emergency responders on the available powers and specificIntroduction con’t.
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authority, as well as the legal procedures that need to be followed, judicial options that need to be considered, the potential for liability, and a host of other legal concerns.Introduction con’t.
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Providing appropriate legal advice during an emergency or disaster will undoubtedly present significant challenges. Appropriate personnel with knowledge of specialized areas of the law, support staff, and judicial resources, need to be assembled. Introduction con’t.
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During an emergency, time cannot be wasted conducting research, developing expertise, preparing draft pleadings, or identifying key personnel to lead the legal response team. Introduction con’t.
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It is important to anticipate legal contingencies and formulate a response plan, be it identifying answers to the most likely issues or preparing draft legal documents that can be quickly adapted to each circumstance. Introduction con’t.
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The Michigan Department of Attorney General, with the help of the Centers for Disease Control and the Michigan Department of Community Health, has developed a tabletop exercise that can help prepare a legal team to respond in the event of an emergency or disaster. We encourage other agencies to use the exercise and test themselves. Introduction con’t.
phase i preparation
PHASE IPreparation

Internal Organization

1. Establish an Emergency Chain of Command and Order of Emergency Interim Succession.

preparation con t
In the event of an emergency, the department director may be inaccessible. It is important that a command structure be implemented in advance so that clear lines of authority are known and decisions and opinions reflect that of the department. Preparation con’t.
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Preparation con’t.

2. Establish an "Emergency Legal Response Team.“

Identify key managers and employees who will be responsible for assembling the expertise needed to respond to a particular emergency or disaster. They should have an intimate knowledge of the resources of the department.

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Preparation con’t.

3. Appoint an " Emergency Management Coordinator.“

The Emergency Management Coordinator, along with an alternate, is a point person who directly interacts with counterparts at the emergency operation center. This person should have expertise regarding the Emergency Management Act and be able to

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Preparation con’t.

respond to general questions and direct detailed inquires, as well as matters that need document preparation or judicial assistance.

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Preparation con’t.

4. Locate Facilities and Communication Systems.

Establish a dependable communication system with multiple redundancy. In addition to line phones, the Emergency Management Coordinator needs to be able to communicate with the Emergency Legal Response Team via cell phone, e-mail, and 800 MHz secure channel radios.

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Preparation con’t.

Create a current, department-wide "telephone tree" to enable speedy contact with department personnel and conduct periodic “contact drills.” An internal information hotline and updated recorded message should be created.

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Preparation con’t.

Consider acquisition of a federal "GETS" card to provide for priority communication during an emergency.

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Preparation con’t.

An alternate emergency operations center should be identified where top managers and the Legal Response Team can gather in the event the department's principal office is unavailable.

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Preparation con’t.

Communications equipment, computers, supplies, and research material should be accessible at the alternate command center. A satellite office of the department could serve as such a site.

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Preparation con’t.

Consider also: Distribution of access keys, location of computer ports, extension cords, computers, projectors, telephones, etc.

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Preparation con’t.

5. Establish a Business Contingency and Emergency Procedures Plan with the Supreme Court.

During an emergency, courts may be closed or inaccessible. A plan that identifies key court administrative staff and judges throughout the state who will be available in the event of an emergency will ensure that

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Preparation con’t.

necessary court orders can be secured, individual rights safeguarded, and the judicial system maintained. Home phone numbers and addresses should be secured so emergency judges can be contacted in the event an emergency prevents them from traveling to the court house.

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Preparation con’t.

An emergency judicial site and court staffing must be considered. A sample emergency judicial plan is attached as Attachment A. Attachment A.pdf

phase ii developing an exercise plan
PHASE IIDeveloping an Exercise Plan

1. Create an Exercise Design Team to plan, coordinate, and support the exercise. The team will tailor an exercise scenario, identify key participants, and control the exercise event. See Attachment B. Attachment B.pdf

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Developing an Exercise Plan con’t.

2. Contact persons or agencies with a stake in the exercise, including other state, federal, and local agencies, foreign participants, and private entities, such as hospitals and their legal counsel. See Attachment C. Attachment C.pdf

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Developing an Exercise Plan con’t.

3. Identify exercise site and secure necessary funding to cover expenses, i.e., rent, food, equipment. In Michigan, the Attorney General was able to fund an exercise through the Homeland Security Grant Program. See Attachment D. Attachment D.pdf

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Developing an Exercise Plan con’t.

4. Establish a timeline and assign detail responsibilities. See Attachment E. Attachment E.pdf

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Developing an Exercise Plan con’t.

5. Develop an exercise scenario that will stimulate discussion, raise significant legal issues, engage participants, and challenge the legal officers to provide prompt and accurate advice. See Attachment F, sample exercise scenario. Attachment F.pdf

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Developing an Exercise Plan con’t.

6. Identify potential issues in advance to insure that proper staff are involved and preliminary research is conducted. This can also be used in the event moderator or participants are unable to raise pertinent questions during the exercise. See Attachment G. Attachment G.pdf

phase iii exercise day
PHASE IIIExercise Day

1. Assign moderators, runners, table captains, etc.

2. Align various participants to reflect particular interests and backgrounds.

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Exercise Day con’t.

3. Encourage discussions among groups and periodically interrupt the exercise to query concerns, obtain status reports, and make modifications as needed.

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Exercise Day con’t.

4. Provide standard communication forms so that legal issues are presented, in writing, to the attorneys and other exercise participants. See Attachment H. Attachment H.pdf

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Exercise Day con’t.

5. Maintain a record of all questions and issues raised. See Attachment I. Attachment I.pdf

6. Have participants evaluate exercise. See Attachment J. Attachment J.pdf

phase iv post exercise
PHASE IVPost Exercise

1. Review evaluations, meet with staff to review and identify strengths and weaknesses.

2. Prepare summary. See Attachment K. Attachment K.pdf

3. Communicate with exercise participants. (See Attachment L.) Attachment L.pdf

index of attachments
Index of Attachments
  • Attachment A = Michigan Supreme Court, State Administrative Office, Business Contingency and Emergency Procedures Plan
  • Attachment B = Exercise Design Team Notes
  • Attachment C = Participant/Observer Contact Letter
  • Attachment D = SHSGP Exercise Grant Agreement
  • Attachment E = Exercise Design Schedule
  • Attachment F = Exercise Scenario
  • Attachment G = Pre-Exercise Potential Issues
  • Attachment H = Exercise Message Form
  • Attachment I = Legal Issue Log
  • Attachment J = Evaluation Report
  • Attachment K = Exercise Summary
  • Attachment L = Exercise Questions Asked and Answered