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We Have Lost Power - Part 3: Direct Operations
By William Sturgeon
Published: 08/25/2014

Emergency plan
For the purpose of this paper the definition of “Direct Operations” includes everything involved with daily operations of correctional facility.

“Direct Operations” cover a multitude of areas and each of these are must be part of the planning process should the facility loose all External Electrical Power. This planning process is also a good time to review the facilities “Direct Operations” to insure that they are up-to-date, sound security practices, energy efficient and operationally sound.

I would recommend to review the “Direction Operations” of a correctional facility the review team compare the written daily “operational” schedule with what is actually being done. It has been my experience that a great many correctional facilities written schedule differ greatly with the actual transpires on a day-to-day basis.

To conduct a realistic “Direction Operations” survey for this planning process it is crucial that the review team actually observed the “Direct Operations” as they happen and then compare what actually happened with what is written.

Why, you may ask, is it important to determining what the “actual” daily “Direction Operations” activities are for a correctional facility? The answer to this question is because the loss of all external electrical power will significantly affect the actual day –to-day “Direct Operations” of the facility. Furthermore, there can be numerous difference between what the written daily schedule says and what “actually” takes place.

From the very beginning of the power outage the facility will have to make emergency arrangements:

  • Reduce the electrical demands of the generator (s) to conserve fuel.
  • Conduct an inventory of food on hand.
  • Establish emergency staffing patterns.
  • Cancel all vacations and time off.
  • Announce to the inmate population any/all changes to the daily schedule. Initially, inform the inmates that all movement will be minimal until further notice.
  • Conduct an inventory of all medicines on hand.
  • Identify all inmates who will need daily medicines (heart, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) and insure that there is a at least a 14 to 30 day supply of these medicine.
  • Initiate the purchasing of additional non- perishable foodstuffs.
  • Initiate the purchasing of additional medicines and necessary medical supplies.
  • Fill all vehicle gas tanks and any other legal gas cans.
  • Initiate the purchase of fuel for the generator (s). Remember hospitals, other public safety operations, nursing homes, shelters, etc. will also be vying for fuel for their generators.
  • All Inmates who have compromised medical issues should be moved to one area so that they can be cared for using the minimum amount of staff. (Of course the security classifications of these inmates must be considered.
  • Assign additional staff, if necessary, to high security areas.
  • Reassess the inmates who will be let out of their cells to perform work assignments. (Initially, the administration might want to consider inmate work assignments being performed by staff, until the inmate reassessment can be conducted.
  • What activities, programs, and event can be postpone, or canceled until power is restored.
Exercise One :
  1. How many inmates (just a number not the names) at the facility need daily medication to survive?
  2. What would be the maximum number of days could each inmate survive without his/her medication?
  3. How many inmates require “special” medical procedures, e.g. dialysis, wound care, blood transfusions, etc.?
  4. How many inmates (just a number not names) at the facility need medicine for psychiatric conditions?
Exercise Two:
  1. How many vehicles does the agency have?
  2. What is the capacity of each of the vehicles fuel takes?
  3. Establish a procedure for recharging hand-held radios.
  4. Determine if necessary what vehicle (s) will be used to communicate with facility should the main radio become out of service.
The numerous things that transpire almost unnoticed, in a correctional facility, when everything is working can be daunting when there is a major emergency.

The review team should determine how the following activities can take place in the event of the “Loss of All External Power”:
  1. Number of meals per day 2 or 3, hot or cold?
  2. Out of cell time for inmates - Depends on available staff
  3. Indoor or outdoor recreation - Depends of available staff
  4. Canteen services – Internal or Outside Vendor? If the canteen services are provided by an outside vendor the facility should review their procedures for supplying the facility should an event of the nature take place. (More will be discussed in the Indirect Operations and Supply Chain sections of the paper.)
  5. Wastewater disposal
  6. Potable water supply
  7. Perishable foods supply
  8. Perishable foods storage (Number of days)
  9. Laundry Operations
  10. Visiting (if possible)
Exercise Three:
Identify other “Direct Operations” that the review team should include in their planning process.

As previously stated “Direct Operations” includes everything involved with daily operations of correctional facility. While I have attempted to give the readers some ideas of what areas need to be looked at by the review team during the planning process I have only touch the surface. It is up to the review team to “drill down” to the specific of the facilities daily “Direct Operations”.

During the planning process remember these things:
  1. What HAS to be done on a daily basis!
  2. What can be done, on a daily basis, given the current circumstance!
  3. What has to be suspended until the crisis has past!
  4. Document all decisions!!!!

Mt. Sturgeon is a decorated Vietnam veteran who served with the 101st Airborne Division.

Visit the Bill Sturgeon page

Other articles by Sturgeon:


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