12/11/2013 11:33:00 AM
Disasters strike anywhere and anytime. Enormous hurricanes and severe flooding are becoming more common. It has been long established that climate change is one of the causes and possible solutions are being thoroughly evaluated by smart minds. Meanwhile, life must go on and businesses must build an emergency team and create their own emergency response plan.
The five characteristics to identify when choosing the members of your emergency response team:
- Familiarity with the facilities, utilities, and building protection systems.
- Working knowledge on property conservation.
- Knowledge with how to use fire extinguishers and clean up small spills of hazardous chemicals.
- Stays calm and alert in any situation. Self-disciplined.
- Physically and mentally healthy.
The Four Important Parts of an Emergency Response Plan:
The Emergency Response Program Handbook
The company’s Emergency Response Program will also include a Disaster Survival Plan all within one handbook. All information about the company must be included. Important parts of the Program are the following: proper introduction page with objectives, expectations and procedures, contact numbers of emergency program personnel and important contact people, and locations and supply of first aid kits. Potential risks for each facility and plans of action for each of them must be thoroughly explained. A detailed map of the whole facility, complete with marked entrances and fire exits, must be included. Highlight the locations of utility shut offs, electrical master switches and fire extinguishers.
Large or small organizations must have an evacuation team with specified members appointed to a different scope of responsibilities each. Your evacuation team must comprise of the following members:
- Team leader – will be responsible for handpicking volunteers to create the company’s group assigned exclusively for evacuation emergency plan.
- Guide for each floor – will be responsible for disseminating handouts and tips to everyone on what to do during emergency evacuation.
- Searcher for each floor – will be responsible for making sure no one is left behind during evacuation.
- Monitoring personnel for each stairwell and elevator – will be responsible for making sure the stairwell and elevator (if usable) are not jammed or overloaded.
- Special Medical Aid for disabled persons – will be responsible for assisting disabled persons.
- Monitoring personnel for each assembly area – will be responsible for making sure no one is missing or injured.
IMPORTANT: A master list must be regularly updated to avoid inaccurate information. Each member of the official evacuation team and important contacts must be given a copy. Provide the official contact number for anyone to call or text during an emergency such as hurricane, tornado, flooding, fire or earthquake. Everyone must check in immediately to be included to the emergency evacuation list.
The sheltering or assembly area is the official destination for the evacuees. Choose the sturdiest part of the building as your evacuation area. If possible, build a well-planned emergency shelter to accommodate a large number of people and stock provisions that anticipate all possible needs – from clean air and water to food and medicine. Determine the quantities needed based on the number of projected occupants. The assembly area team will have fewer members but they must perform very specific duties:
- Team Leader – will be responsible for double-checking that tasks are properly performed by each member of the sheltering team.
- Gatekeeper – will be assigned to stay by the exterior door and make sure no one is left behind before securing the door lock system. A gatekeeper must be assigned for each door for buildings with multiple entrance and exit points.
- News monitoring personnel – will regularly check all available sources of news updates and must make sure the information is distributed to everyone.
- Utilities personnel – will be assigned to the exact locations of controls to shut down including all utilities and mechanical and electrical services.
- Supplies personnel – will be responsible for making sure there is ample supply of drinkable water, non-perishable food, and medical supplies. Rechargeable batteries and lanterns, as well as generators, must be available to accommodate a larger group in the sheltering area.
The lockdown emergency plan will be monitored by the evacuation team members because they will be the last to leave the evacuated area. The team leader must create a lockdown list. Establish communication systems to broadcast warnings, such as: telephone, public address system, megaphone, and mobile phones. Important items in the lockdown emergency plan list are the following:
- Electrical master switches must be off for each floor
- Utilities turned off as required
- Windows must be taped or boarded if possible and necessary
- Water supplies and main pipes must be turned off
- Electronic devices, storage facilities and other important items from lower floors must be transferred to higher areas to minimize damage caused by flooding.
IMPORTANT: Preparedness must come hand in hand with precautionary measures. All emergency response team members must undergo training. Everyone in the organization must undergo drilling practices to be prepared for any kind of emergency.
The members of the medical response team must be properly trained by medical professionals. The three most important things medical response personnel must learn:
- Dial 911 and report a medical emergency.
- Locations of first aid kits and AEDs (automated external defibrillators).
- Provide efficient first aid assistance to victims.
The Six Steps on How to Create a Preparedness Program
- Develop a disaster program management. Enumerate all types of disasters and identify regulations to address each type of emergency. Establish minimum requirements to enhance efficiency.
- Planning includes two factors: hazards and risks. Identify the hazards and assess the risks. Based on this pre-planning program, create a business impact analysis.
- Implementation is a series of programs considered as integral parts of the program management as a whole. Resource management is on top of the list, while training is at the bottom – last but not the least, of course.
- Testing and Practices. Evaluate the program through constant testing and regular exercises. Practice makes for effective disaster program management.
- Continuous improvement of the program must be included in the list of priorities following an actual disaster incident. There is no shortage of new methods to make the preparedness program more efficient and more effective. Review incidents from other areas to pinpoint gaps and deficiencies in your own disaster program management.
- Prepare these two plans: business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan. The main purpose focuses on the development of recovery efforts for the business following a specific type of disaster. Both the continuity and recovery plans aim to improve the overall recovery capabilities and actions, and develop collective decision making process.