Emergency Response Plans

The very first step when creating an emergency response plan for your business is to perform a risk assessment to identify possible emergency situations. A basic knowledge of what could occur will allow you to develop processes and strategies to better prepare your organization for the worst-case scenario and will help you determine necessary resource needs. Emergency preparedness is essential because it gives your business the best chance to stay operational during an emergency.

In addition, an emergency response plan addresses the costs associated with an emergency. Most business owners do not understand the complex costs that are associated with natural disasters, the best way is for . A good plan should include a cost-containment strategy that provides a breakdown of the different costs associated with different elements in your plan. This includes the cost of hiring qualified personnel, the cost of supplies and material used in restoring your operations, and the cost of evacuation and community facilities such as schools and businesses.

A risk management plan or risk management process should address any other issues that may arise in the event of an emergency. A good example of this would be if your business utilizes a number of vehicles for different types of business activities. You may want to establish a database and a way for employees to report emergencies directly to you. You may also need to have a designated person in place that can respond to crisis calls and report issues.

Creating a business continuity plan in the event of a disaster is a critical component of emergency preparedness. Your business impact analysis should identify key business functions that you depend on daily. Some of the most important business functions include customer service, accounting, financial services, administrative and secretarial support, inventory control, distribution, human resources management, marketing, preventive maintenance, plumbing and utility maintenance, and safety of equipment. These are just some of the business functions that could be impacted if a disaster were to occur. This list is not exhaustive and is only a start; in your business-impact analysis you should identify the key areas that impact your business and those that you should address in your emergency preparedness planning.

An emergency operations center should be established within your business as a primary location for communications. This emergency operations center should be staffed with trained communication professionals such as receptionists. This is especially critical if an emergency occurs at night or if there are multiple locations that receive phone calls during the day. Other locations that are critical to communicating with the public can include fire departments, police stations, and hospitals. Having a location that staff’s communication with the public is critical to your emergency response capabilities.

In the event that a disaster does occur and an emergency response plan must be implemented, each employee in your office space will need to be trained in incident management. Incident management will include evacuation procedures, medical treatments, emergency procedures, and the filing of reports. Emergency procedures will include filing a report with the local emergency authorities, calling home and family to advise them of the location and of the emergency, clearing away debris and emergency supplies, and instructing the public where to go for shelter and emergency food and water. Training for these emergency procedures should be done as a group and may be required to be included on your company’s emergency protocol manual.

The preparation of a disaster management plan does not stop at the initial emergency response plan implementation. Ongoing monitoring and review of your emergency plans are essential to stay well-informed and ensure that you have the resources necessary to assist other business and government agencies in their preparation as well. Ongoing crisis management plans should also include members that are trained in disaster restoration, cleanup, and emergency shelters. These team members should be designated specifically to respond to disasters and incidents, so that other business owners and government partners know when and who to call for assistance.

Implementing an effective business continuity plan and business impact analysis can be difficult. It takes time and a lot of thought. However, the sooner you implement an effective plan, the earlier in the event of a disaster your business can be up and running again. By having an information technology (IT) professional help you develop and implement an effective business continuity plan, you will be able to keep your business running smoothly during any emergency or disaster.