Surgeons, pilots and other professionals use checklists to improve safety and efficiency.   Atul Gawande is a surgeon, writer and public health researcher that, among many other things, has worked to implement checklists in healthcare to help safe lives.  His book, “The Checklist Manifesto” ( details his research into various fields’ application and/or need for simple checklists to enhance safety and improve quality of service.

“The book’s main point is simple: no matter how expert you may be, well-designed check lists can improve outcomes” – freakonomics

Emergency plans come in a variety of formats, names and even purposes.   For the most part, it seems emergency management has gone away from integrating checklists.   Prior to the 2001 and the subsequent National Response Plan (NRP), National Incident Management System (NIMS), Incident Command System (ICS) and other federal requirements, checklists were not uncommon in emergency plans.

This is not to suggest that a checklist alone constitutes an emergency plan.  But after reading Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto, I am convinced they serve a much-needed role in emergency response and management.  The more complicated the emergency, the more critical the need.

Gawande points out that in a complex situation, experts are confronted by two difficulties.  1) The fallibility of human memory and attention (especially when dealing the mundane/routine matters that are easily put aside by more pressing concerns).   2) Complacency- people can intentionally skip, even when they remember them.  In a major emergency, after all, certain procedures don’t always matter.

Checklists help to provide protection against such failures and ensure the plan is properly implemented; or at least considered.

If you are interested in learning how to integrate checklists into your life, or just your emergency plans, I highly recommend you read “The Checklist Manifesto.”   If you are interested in upgrading your emergency plans into an intuitive cloud system, that automatically creates mobile apps (with checklist !), please contact

Stay safe!

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