Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning Information

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department of public safety - emergency communication networks

PSAP Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plans Due May 15

Additional COOP Training Opportunity Available April 22 at the Minnesota Public Safety Communications Conference 

March 14, 2018

Clarification / Additional Information Regarding PSAP COOP Plans 


As you have hopefully heard by now, in response to being prepared to proactively respond during an unanticipated emergency that requires you to vacate your PSAP,  all PSAPs are being asked to submit  a Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plan to ECN. These Plans will be filed with your County 9-1-1 Plan and will not be accessible to anyone other than employees at ECN.

MN Administrative Rule 7580, which accompanies MN 403 Statute talking about a county’s requirement to submit final 9-1-1 plans says, in part, “A description of the secondary means of providing service in the event of the failure of either both of the following: all or a portion of the 911 emergency telephone system; or failure of PSAP primary electrical power.”

While this language does not specify that the secondary means of providing service must be described in a comprehensive COOP Plan, the failures mentioned (most specifically a failure of PSAP primary electrical power) do point to one.   

A true COOP Plan will also incorporate more detailed and comprehensive processes for being able to conduct day-to-day essential business, as well as providing essential services over a longer term. If you prefer to call this an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), that is also acceptable.

We are most interested in knowing what immediate steps your PSAP staff will take in the event you have an unexpected situation that requires immediate evacuation.  We don’t want to see any PSAP in the news because they had no plan to handle 9-1-1 calls and have to send public safety services to mitigate those calls.  We want every PSAP to be prepared to continue to operate. 

After reviewing a number of plans devised by other PSAPs across the country and with the assistance of the Office of Emergency Communications, ECN has created a simple, fillable template to assist our Minnesota PSAPs craft a minimum Plan to get you thinking about evacuation of your PSAP.  Each PSAP is free to add as much additional information as deemed necessary or appropriate, according to your internal process requirements. 

Today, every PSAP has both alternate and abandonment 9-1-1 call  routing instructions on file in the event of an all circuits busy condition, or a failure condition.  This is an opportunity to review and improve on these options. 

Many PSAPs have PSAP Abandonment Devices in place that will reroute 9-1-1 calls to an alternate PSAP with the flip of a switch.  This is an opportunity to consider the implementation of this option if you don’t have one. 

Every PSAP should have working Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) systems and a back up generator.  The generator should be tested under load monthly and results recorded.   These safeguards will suffice in many situations,  but not in all likely situations.   This is your opportunity to think outside the box.  “What will we do if our staff has to suddenly leave the building?” 

Citizens will still expect their calls to be answered and that they will receive help.  Emergency responders will still expect their radios to be monitored and and that they will still have their dispatcher “life-lines.”    To say, “oops, we had a fire in our backroom and the fire department cut our power and some of our equipment burned up so we have to go home until it is fixed,” is simply not going to be an option.   That is one option that will be met with adverse media attention. 

Do you know what your first ten moves would be if a catastrophic failure caused your PSAP to go down unexpectedly?  

  •  What if your power goes out and your generator fails? 
  •  What if your PSAP floods? 
  •  What if a tornado comes through your building? 
  •  What if your PSAP catches fire? 
  •  What is your plan for the first three hours?

If you do not yet have a plan, we want you to think about identifying what it would take for you to perform your essential functions in a catastrophe, particularly during the initial three hours.

This exercise is not meant to place an extra burden on PSAP managers; rather, it is intended to allow you to be proactive and not reactive in an emergency. 

Remember that these Plans can be as simple or complex as you choose to make them.  They are also meant to be trained on and exercised with. Once you complete the basic template, you have a starting point to continue to expand on the plan and make it increasingly sophisticated over time. 

If you already have a very robust and comprehensive COOP that you feel contains data sensitive information, don’t share that portion.  We are asking only that you share the level of information we have requested on the template.   If you are willing to share your entire plan, we will gladly accept it.   

The original date set for these to be in to ECN was March 31st.  However, we are extending the date until after  the Public Safety Conference in April, since additional training is available on Sunday, April 22.  There will be two three-hour sessions that day – one from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon for small PSAPs (four seats or less) and another session from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. for PSAPs with over four seats.  OEC will be leading the April 22nd  training and is using Minnesota as a pilot to create a Technical Assistance course that will be used across the country for similar training. 

This training on April 22 will not be as extensive as the all-day COOP training was last fall, but you should be able to get remaining questions answered.  You may attend one or both sessions, depending on registration numbers. Conference registration is scheduled to open tomorrow, March 15.  

Please send your completed COOP Plan to Cathy Anderson  by May 15.  This date will not be extended again, as these Plans have been talked about for five months already. If you have questions or need a copy of the template, let Cathy know.  We will be happy to come out to a regional meeting before May 15, if requested, to provide additional support. 

Thank you.