Racing to the Finish Line: Five Tips to Help Your Organization Gain EMAP Accreditation
One step on the path to preparedness is for an organization to follow the guidelines and gain accreditation through the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP). As described on EMAP.org, EMAP sets “the voluntary standards, assessment, and accreditation process for disaster preparedness programs throughout the country, fosters excellence and accountability in emergency management and homeland security programs, by establishing credible standards applied in a peer review accreditation process.”
Becoming accredited through the EMAP is a challenging and rigorous process. While having all the required personnel, programs, and documents in place to meet the standards are the most important factors in the evaluation process, there are several additional factors that can help an organization achieve EMAP success. Below are five tips to help you get over the finish line:
1: Point to the Evidence
Proof of Compliance Letters are the first step to connecting evidence to the EMAP Standards. These letters serve as a guide to the assessor to best understand which documents provided by your organization prove compliance with an EMAP standard. When citing specific passages from the documents you’ve submitted, it is important to indicate the document and page number the excerpt is from. An organization should be thorough in writing these letters, no detail proving compliance should be left out. The more time spent on writing and reviewing your proof of compliance letter, the less time will be spent searching for your evidence the week of the assessment.
2: Stay Organized
Organization is a key part of a successful assessment. Not only should you have all files electronically available and organized by standard, but it is important to have physical copies available for assessors too in case they are requested. Printing out letters documents in advance will make it much easier for assessors to get through them. Highlighting, using post-its, and annotating the printed evidence adds an extra element of ease to the process.
3: Stick to a Schedule
When planning your schedule for EMAP Accreditation Preparation, work backwards from the day of the assessment. Dedicate time at least a week before the assessment to do your physical organization of the assessor workspace. Ensure you set up a dedicated work station including a computer for the assessor. Organize all your hard copies of Proof of evidence by printing any needed documents and including any last-minute changes. It is also important to leave sufficient time to upload all your documents and final letters in advance to the EMAP portal. Uploading can require a significant amount of time, so give yourself plenty of time to complete this step.
4: Know your weaknesses
A Proof of Compliance letter is sometimes not enough. In these situations, EMAP assessors turn to interviews for further clarifications. It is important to prepare your staff for these interviews. Prepare staff by notifying standard owners and updating them on what may be program weaknesses throughout the preparation process. This allows them time to prepare for interview questions and strengthen program elements. If you do not know your weaknesses, you will not know how to improve your program.
5: Be a Great Host
The week of the assessment can be an exciting time but also stressful. Taking time to prepare in advance by completing some of the tips listed above will help. Make sure that you have anticipated the needs of the assessment team. Not only should you have all computers in order and working with access to internet and the EMAP portal, but it helps to have all evidence and Proof of Compliance Letters uploaded to each assessor computer. Having the files on multiple flash drives can also help if there are limited printers available. Remember that they are guests of your state or jurisdiction and likely unfamiliar with the area. Put a book together noting restaurant recommendations, distances to tourist sites, guidebooks, etc. They will appreciate the effort to make their visit as pleasant as possible. The dedicated assessment room should be self-sufficient for the team. Be certain to have office supplies, a copier, coffee maker/water, conference phone line, etc. They will also need a least one room, possibly two rooms to support one on one interviews with the subject matter experts identified for interviews.
Extra Tip: Consider Hiring Outside Help to Prepare for Your EMAP Assessment
Preparing for an EMAP accreditation can require extensive time commitment by your staff, so it might be worth hiring outside support to ensure your organization has the proper resources to successfully complete the accreditation process.
Hagerty Consulting has supported several emergency management agencies with preparation for the EMAP assessment. The Hagerty Consulting team works directly with staff planners to track completion of their assessment-related tasks and developed original content. Hagerty Consulting provides onsite support the week prior to the EMAP assessment, conducting final document reviews and providing extensive organization of large volumes of hard copy assessment materials.
Hagerty congratulates our clients on their achievements and work toward EMAP compliance! We are happy to support you in your efforts.
Hagerty Consulting is an emergency management consulting firm that helps clients prepare for and recover from disasters. Established in 2001, We have worked on some of the nation’s largest recovery and preparedness projects and is consistently recognized throughout the industry for its innovative thinking, client-centric service, and the superior results it delivers to every project. You can learn more about our Preparedness capabilities here.