As we have seen from the past 20 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, our DHS employees and facilities are critical to the health and well-being of the Los Angeles County community. Continuity of operation planning (COOP), also called Business Continuity Planning (BCP), is an important method of ensuring that DHS operations are always available. This planning ensures that the needed DHS staff, supplies, equipment and workspace are available to fulfill our essential functions after a disaster like an earthquake, flooding, cyberattack or pandemic.
The first step of the COOP/BCP process is to identify these essential functions down to the department level at hospitals and clinics (Pediatrics, Respiratory, Human Resources, Environmental Services, etc.) and more globally for services such as Human Resources and Contracts and Grants, to name a few. Examples of essential functions include drawing blood from patients, operating a NICU, safeguarding the delivery of payroll to employees and cleaning a patient’s room. The process is intended to assess what resources we need to keep these functions operating – computers, networks, practitioners, supplies, equipment such as ventilators or imaging devices and so on.
After we determine the essential functions and resources, we evaluate how we can make as certain as possible that we have the means to continue serving our communities after a devasting disaster. That’s continuity planning.
In early 2020, DHS engaged a contractor, Tetra Tech, Inc., to assist with our continuity planning efforts. This initiative was paused due to COVID-19 response activities and resumed in March 2021. You may have already seen a version of the COOP survey, or you may soon be asked to complete a survey for your area. The information in the completed surveys will be used by Tetra Tech to develop COOP plans for each department, each facility and for DHS as a whole. DHS supervisors, managers and executives will then be given the chance to revise and approve these plans.
Depending on your facility and position you may be asked to complete a COOP survey through either a PDF version or in an online link. Previous BCP and emergency plans are a good resource for your answers. Facility Building Emergency Coordinators (BECs) and Emergency Management Officers (EMOs) have access to those plans and other sources of information. Your BECs and EMOs can connect you with John Opalski and Mike Noone from the Department Emergency Coordination (DEC) program, if needed.
Survey completion is an important aspect of the COOP project and one that will take you and your section several hours to complete. We know this is a substantial request given your current workload and the heroic efforts you’ve contributed to our community since the beginning of the pandemic. But now is the time to capture the lessons we’ve learned about how to meet the mission of DHS and ensure our doors remain open even under challenging circumstances.