How To Develop An Emergency Response Program
Have you ever been caught off-guard by a severe accident or other emergency situation? You may have felt helpless, anxious, and perhaps even threatened.
Now, magnify that feeling by the total enrollment of a school, headcount of an office, or patient roster of a medical treatment facility – such is the importance of an Emergency Response Plan.
A number of factors can be used to differentiate between those organizations that merit an Emergency Response Plan, and those that don’t. Emergency Response Programs are most commonly found in schools, large office campuses, governmental agencies, universities, and other institutions wherein a large number of people assemble at any given time. Best practices would dictate that any organization which sponsors the congregation of people in a given location and assumes responsibility for their well-being, develop some form of Emergency Response Program.
Here are the most important elements of any Emergency Response Program, outlined in sequential order:
- A definitive objective & scope: An emergency response plan should not aim to speak to every potential crisis, but should address the most severe events with a reasonable likelihood of occurrence. Many emergency response plans are tailored for application to: fires, medical emergencies, hostile intruders, and/or severe weather events.
- Assignment of Responsibility: An emergency response plan is useless without proper accountability. Responsible persons should be assigned for program administration and supervision, both prior to, during, and after an emergency event. Many organizations have found success in assigning such a person at the departmental management level, with secondary responsibility assigned at the team/workgroup tier.
- Establish Clear Lines of Communication: Preemptive communication with staff, external stakeholders (parents, caregivers), and local law enforcement/emergency services can greatly improve the efficacy and success rate of any emergency response plan. Prior to an event, all parties should know with whom they can look to for an expected communication, be it incoming or outgoing.
- Define Procedure: Develop action steps from event start to event finish. Incorporate contingency plans for possible obstacles, and ensure that plan flows logically along previously established lines of communication. Many organizations have found it helpful to inform staff of emergency procedures by assigning checklists to responsible persons.
- Training/Drills: Staff, congregants, and responsible persons should be trained and/or drilled on an ongoing basis in an effort to measure competency and identify areas for improvement. Evacuation routes, assembly areas, and methods for protecting persons and property should be measured against a predetermined benchmark and closely scrutinized following a training/drill event.
- Program evaluation: Emergency response programs should be evaluated at regular intervals. Goals should be measurable – that is, incorporating some form of quantitative threshold to define success or failure. All training and drills should aim to exceed any predetermined goals, and evaluation methods should permit for the identification and reconciliation of any weak points or process failures.
At Exude, we can work to identify your organization’s most pressing risks to persons and property, and assist in developing your own comprehensive Emergency Response Plan. Please contact us today for more information.