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The concept of the emergency planning cycle

Although there are different models used to prepare an emergency plan, they typically contain similar elements and the approach for development is usually cyclical.

Simple cyclical process

Emergency planning can be described using a simple cyclical process: its implementation ensures the emergency plan is fit for purpose (Dillon 2014: 37).

Figure from Dillon of the Planning Cycle

Figure of eight process

An extended version of this model is given by the UK Cabinet Office (2011: 17).

Figure showing the UK cabinet Office's cycle of emergency planning. The first cycle is titled consult and has four stages: Take direction from risk assessment, Set objectives, Determine actions and responsibilities and agree and finalise. The second cycle is titled embed and involves: Issue and desseminate, train key staff, validate in exercise and in response and maintain, review and consider revision.

Their model describes a ‘figure of eight’ with the top circle aligned very closely to the Dillon model.

The bottom circle describes the process for developing the plan.

Read sections 5.46 to 5.50 of ‘Chapter 5 Emergency planning of the UK Cabinet Office guidance’, which describe in detail the emergency planning cycle.

Your task

Consider what challenges there would be in developing and maintaining an emergency plan using these models.


Dillon, B. (2014) Blackstone’s Emergency Planning, Crisis and Disaster Management. 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Cabinet Office (2017) ‘Chapter 5 (Emergency planning)’. Emergency Preparedness (revised version) [online] available from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/61028/Emergency_Preparedness_chapter5_amends_21112011.pdf [8 May 2018]

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This article is from the free online course:

An Introduction to Emergency Planning and Preparedness

Coventry University