An Emergency Preparedness Plan is important to establish and review before it becomes necessary to use. Having well-thought-out procedures in place can save lives, reduce property damage, and lessen the resulting disruption of daily business operations if an emergency occurs.
Creating Your Plan
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a plan should begin with introductory material and a purpose, and should include other elements such as situation and assumptions, concept of operations, assignment of responsibilities, and plan maintenance. The plan should end with a list of emergency-related authorities and references.
When constructing an Emergency Preparedness Plan, there are also several types of procedures to keep in mind:
- Preparedness and prevention procedures: includes elements such as training, supplies/equipment, mutual aid, community awareness, emergency public information, and technical reference sources
- Response procedures: includes elements such as emergency notification, communications, emergency shutdown, site evacuation, and government coordination
- These should be in place for all possible risks, including fires, man-made hazards, and natural disasters
- Recovery procedures: includes elements such as incident investigation, damage assessment, clean-up and restoration, business resumption, and claims procedures
Here are some important questions you should be asking when designing and re-evaluating your plan:
- What are the different possible risks to your facility?
- How are your facility’s response capabilities?
- Is the person in charge of the development and maintenance of the plan the best fit for the task?
- Has there been collaboration with government officials to ensure that the plan is appropriate and that they are familiar with the appropriate responses?
- Has the plan been updated recently to address new possible hazards?
Types of Emergency Preparedness Plans
There are a variety of Emergency Preparedness Plans to choose from. For example, an Action Guide would only provide the basic information necessary in case of an emergency (who to call or other basic response functions), while an Emergency Management Plan would be more comprehensive and would also include how the response function should be executed (who should do what and when, either in preparation for, or in response to, a disaster). Another option is the Mutual Aid Plan, which would be created in conjunction with other businesses in order to create an assistive partnership.
Testing and Re-evaluating Your Plan
After a plan has been written and reviewed, it should be thoroughly re-evaluated annually to ensure its efficiency. Drills and exercises should be frequently conducted in order to minimize possible execution errors. If possible, these should be done with the local fire department.
While all businesses require an Emergency Preparedness Plan, each has a unique array of possible hazards and needs to address. It is imperative to craft your plan carefully and to consistently reassess it as the business grows, laws and regulations change, and new hazards and response capabilities emerge.