Following on from Kath’s article on being prepared for disaster I have prepared a list of things to consider and how to lay out you risk control plans.
Emergency Planning – General Overview
The time to consider the response to an emergency is not following a serious incident, but long before, when conditions are normal. Unfortunately, many organizations have learned this lesson the hard way By not having a plan in place, they were forced to muddle their way through when the crisis occurred, often making mistakes. Sadly, these mistakes can have serious financial and human costs.
Although traumatic events cannot be completely prevented, proper preparation can help minimize the impact on an organization and its staff. If you already have an emergency plan in effect, this article can serve as a review.
The following provides an overview of the steps to include and items to consider when establishing a new emergency preparedness plan, or updating an existing plan. The items listed are general guidelines. Your facility may require a more complex and detailed plan to be fully effective.
An effective Emergency Preparedness Plan can:
- Save lives.
- Reduce property damage.
- Minimize interruption of business operations.
Emergency Preparedness Plan Outline
I. Plan Basics
- Policy/Legal Authority
- Concept of Operations
- Plan Maintenance
- Prevention Procedures
- Prevention Policy
- Fire Prevention
- Safety & Health Review
- Inspection Procedure
II. Preparedness Procedures
- Drills and Exercises
- Mutual Aid
- Community Awareness
- Emergency Public Information
- Technical Reference Sources
III. Response Procedures
- Emergency Notification
- Direction & Control
- Emergency Shutdown
- Fire Procedures
- On-site Spill Procedures
- Off-site Spill Procedures
- Site evacuation
- Medical Treatment
- Government Coordination
- Bomb Treat
- Other Hazard Procedures
IV. Recovery Procedures
- Incident Investigation
- Damage Assessment
- Clean-up & Restoration
- Business Rsumption
- Claims Procedures
Determine the risk of an emergency to your facility. What naturally caused emergencies are possible? Flood, tornado, earthquake, hurricane etc. What man-made hazards exist, both internal and external? Fire, chemical reaction, toxic spill, explosion, gas leak, etc.
Evaluate your facility’s response capabilities. Evaluate your facility’s personnel, equipment and other resources to determine their capacity to respond to emergencies. Response procedures should be established so that adequate personnel, equipment and supplies area available for implementation.
Select the right person or team to write the plan. This responsibility is typically given to the safety director, emergency coordinator, or a similarly qualified individual.
Form a committee to assist in the plan development. Include representatives of all groups that would play a significant role in emergency operations, but no so many that it becomes ineffective.
Use the expertise of local government officials such as the fire chief, police chief, or emergency preparedness director. Their experience in emergency operations can help insure that your plan ins complete and coordinated with government plans. Being familiar with your facility will assist them in responding faster and being better prepared to deal with the expected emergencies.
Be aware that existing plans were written for hazards and capabilities present at the time the plan was established. As businesses grow and change, so do the hazards and the abilities to respond. Regulations may also change over time.
Several other, less obvious, considerations that an emergency plan should include are:
- Authority or succession plans
- Vital records duplication and off-site storage
- Customer/vendor notification procedures
Alternate sources for:
- Building and communication services interrupted by the emergency
There are a a variety of emergency plans from which to choose. Picking the proper plan is important. The most common types are:
Action Guides or Checklists: Generally a short and simple means to describe basic procedures that must be followed. For example, who to call, necessary information and basic response functions. This type of plan states what to do during a disaster.
Response Plans: Usually very detailed and instruct all responsible individuals the actions that must be taken to mitigate the problem at hand. This type of plan states who does what and how during a disaster.
Emergency Management Plans: The most comprehensive plans used in business. They usually state who does what and when, before, during and after a disaster. Often this type of plan will incorporate “implementing procedures” that state how something is to be done.
Mutual Aid Plans: These are developed with other nearby firms. Such a plan calls for firms to share resources and help one another during an emergency and usually states who will do what during an emergency.
Decide what type of plan is best for your facility once you have:
- An idea of the company’s risk to various hazards.
- Assessed response capabilities.
- Reviewed existing or previously written plans.
All plans should specify which employee assigned on each shift will:
- Notify the public authorities
- Shut off electricity an gas.
- Shut off Water.
- Shut down operations and evacuate employees and students.
- Man fire extinguishers or other protective equipment.
- Notify specific management personnel.
- Man first aid stations.
- Handle public relations.
One or two alternates for each shift should also be assigned to cover the responsibility in the event of injury, absence or vactions. The assignment should be reviewed periodically to adjust for changes in personnel.
A plan is only properly implemented when personnel are trained and the plan is tested. Too often, well-written, well-thought-out emergency plans are ineffective simply because not enough effort went into training and exercises.
Drills and exercises are used both for augmenting training and to test the adequacy of the emergency procedure and response capabilities. They provide the primary method, short of an actual emergency, of measuring the facility’s readiness and the pan’s effectiveness. To insure value, the local fire department should be asked to participate in an on-site drill.
A thorough, high-level review of the emergency plan should be conducted annually. Don’t let you plan become a neglected document gathering dust in a desk. The need can occur at any time.
Preparation, practice, training and review. These are the time-tested elements of a successful Emergency Preparedness Plan. The type of plan you choose to address your needs will determine its contents. It is not essential to include very element in your plan. Include only those items that are necessary to accomplish your purpose, while ensuring the plan is complete.
Please contact us for further information:
Program Executive: Vicky Hanley
P: 631-421-2424 ext. 210