Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Administrative and Service Environment (PA-ASE) 6: Emergency Response Preparedness

The agency plans for and coordinates emergency response preparedness.
2020 Edition




 The agency’s administrative and service environments are respectful, safe, and accessible and contribute to agency effectiveness.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed administration and management infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
County/Municipality Administered Agency, State Administered Agency (Central Office), or other Public Entity
  • Agency emergency response plan 
  • Additional facility-specific emergency plans
  • Table of contents of training curricula 
State Administered Agency (Regional Office)
  • Regional emergency response plan 
  • Additional facilities-specific emergency plans
All Agencies
  • Documentation of consultation with a health professional
  • Emergency contact information 
  • Training curricula
  • Documentation tracking staff completion of training 
  • Documentation tracking completion of training for persons served, as appropriate
  • Fire drill logs
All Agencies
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Agency leadership
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Persons served
  • Observe facility

Fundamental Practice

PA-ASE 6.01

The agency develops an emergency response plan that that outlines its response to medical emergencies, facility and security-related emergencies, and natural disasters, and addresses:
  1. coordination with appropriate local, state, and federal governmental authorities and emergency responders;
  2. coordination with agency leadership, personnel, service recipients and their families, and as appropriate, the public, and the media;
  3. evacuation procedures including accounting for the whereabouts of staff and service recipients and the evacuation of persons with mobility challenges and other special needs; and
  4. plans for maintaining service continuity.


State agency regional offices should maintain separate emergency response plans that build off of the statewide plan but contain specific provisions for regional relocation options and communications within the regional management structure.
Examples: Emergency situations can include, but are not limited to, accidents, suicide, fire, medical emergencies, flooding, hostage situations, bomb threats, active shooter, unlawful intrusion, physical assault, and other life threatening situations. 

Examples: Plans for maintaining service continuity can include, but are not limited, to:
  1. options for relocating service recipients; and
  2. arrangements for the provision of necessary medications when applicable.
Individuals that may require a plan for providing medications in the event of an emergency include individuals with psychiatric conditions, individuals taking opioid treatment medications, and older adults.  Arrangements can include maintaining a list of service recipients likely to be affected and pre-arranging for services outside the area likely to be evacuated.

Examples: Response plans in the event of a suicide can include:
  1. procedures for managing information about the death; 
  2. coordination of internal or external resources; 
  3. supports for those affected by the death; 
  4. commemoration of the deceased; and 
  5. follow-up with anyone at elevated risk for suicide. 

Fundamental Practice

PA-ASE 6.02

The agency is prepared to treat injuries and respond to medical emergencies by:
  1. maintaining a readily available communication device, poison control information, and first aid supplies and manuals at all program sites and during off-site activities when applicable; 
  2. consulting with a health professional, as necessary, to develop procedures for such situations; and 
  3. maintaining emergency data information for personnel and service recipients.


Agencies that maintain Naloxone or opioid antagonist kits to treat opioid overdose cases:
  1. ensure authorized and properly trained staff are available to administer these treatments; and
  2. have procedures and appropriate training in place to get affected individuals to urgent care or an emergency department immediately following overdose treatment to preempt the reoccurrence or worsening of symptoms. 
Note: Please see the Case Record Checklist and Facility Observation Checklist for additional guidance on this standard.

Fundamental Practice

PA-ASE 6.03

Personnel, and service recipients in residential or daytime group care settings, receive training on implementing the agency's emergency response plan that is tailored as appropriate to:
  1. the specific types of emergencies faced by the agency;
  2. the level of staff responsibility;
  3. the needs, age, and developmental level of service recipients;
  4. program type; and
  5. geographic location.
Examples: It may be appropriate for some staff to receive “gatekeeper training” on how to recognize, interpret, and respond to signs of suicide risk, and/or Mental Health First Aid training for recognizing and responding to signs of a mental health crisis.

Fundamental Practice

PA-ASE 6.04

Fire drills are conducted according to legal requirements, and held at least:
  1. during periods of both activity and rest, as appropriate to the program or service;
  2. once a month for every shift in Early Childhood Education (PA-ECE) and Out-of-School Time (PA-OST) settings: 
  3. once a quarter for every shift in residential or daytime group care settings; and/or
  4. annually for other services and at administrative offices.


Residential programs for adults living independently in apartments, single-room-occupancy, or other independent living arrangements are not expected to conduct fire drills during evening and/or overnight shifts where staff do not have a continuous presence onsite. Such programs must still conduct fire drills at each program site during business hours.