Continuity of Operations Planning

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Office of Environmental Health & Safety

Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP)

Storm Ready

StormReady is a recognition program started in 1999 by the National Weather Service to help arm America's communities and Universities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property–before and during an event.  StormReady Universities are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education, awareness efforts and effective warning systems. No University is storm proof, but meeting the StormReady criteria can help save lives.

"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." - General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Continuity planning is the practice of planning how you will run your department/unit processes when normal operating procedures are not possible.  If you do not have access to computers, how will you continue processing your business information?  In addition, once computers are restored, how will you bring the system to a current status?  If you do not have access to your building, how will you continue to provide your critical functions to the University? 


Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP) are intended to guide departments, divisions, and the University as a whole in the continued provisions of critical operations and the re-establishment of business functions during and after a disaster occurs.  Continuity planning is a critical piece of overall emergency management which encompasses prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery from a disaster.

Continuity plans should, at a minimum, address the following disruptions:

  • Loss of access to a facility (e.g. structural damage)
  • Interruption in service due to a reduced workforce (e.g. pandemic)
  • Interruption in service due to equipment or systems failure (e.g. IT systems failure, disruption in electric, water, or heat services)


Not sure if your department should develop a continuity plan?  Does your department have a stake in:

  • Academics and instruction
  • Student support
  • Healthcare
  • Research
  • Critical business, finance and/or infrastructure operations

All University departments, including satellite facilities outside of Greenville, should participate in continuity planning.  A few examples of departmental essential functions include:
  • Delivering instruction
  • Providing dining services
  • Maintaining basic utilities (e.g. sewer, water, electricity)
  • Preserving sensitive research materials
  • Performing certain fiscal activities

The Office of Internal Audit performs audits of continuity plan annually.

Plan Contents

COOPs are comprised of information which allows a department / unit to continue critical functions during and after a disaster.  Typically, the duration of a continuity planning period is 60 days or less.  A departmental COOP may be comprised of the following components:

  • Identification of Critical Functions
  • Succession of Leadership
  • Delegation of Authorities
  • Communication Plan
  • Vital Data, Systems and Equipment
  • Upstream and Downstream Dependencies
  • Key Resources


(1) Identify risks to your department/unit, (2) identify how those risks would impact your department/unit, (3) plan for how to prevent/cope with the impact, (4) practice those workarounds, and (5) annually review your plan. 

For assistance in developing or updating a COOP for your department/unit, please contact Environmental Health and Safety at 328-6166 or email safety@ecu.edu. 

ECU Ready

The departmental COOP template has now been integrated into a system called ECU Ready.  ECU Ready provides direction and aids in outlining responsibilities and procedures for re-establishing services.  

This tool is easy-to-use and requires no advance training.  However, we strongly recommend that you begin by contacting EH&S, who will provide you with guidance and context. 

If you are ready to get started and develop your ECU Ready continuity plan, please contact EH&S at 328-6166 or email Lauren Gunter at guntera@ecu.edu to set up your plan. 

For information on Continuity Planning for East Carolina University, visit the following link.  


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