What Is an Emergency Response Plan?

An emergency response plan is a document that details what actions individuals take within the initial minutes of an emergency that dictates whether the severity of an incident escalates or not. The severity refers to various elements, including financial, environmental, material, or human. In any case, any company must invest in creating an emergency response plan. Having one helps in minimizing the damages or losses brought about by unforeseen incidents. The main focus of the emergency response plan is the response given by the company to address various situations. Emergency response plans must highlight and list the high-risk circumstances. The circumstances require quality responsive risk management that translates into a catastrophic emergency response plan.

According to a blog post from the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) dating back to September 21st, 2018, about 86.9 percent of local governments report having created plans to mitigate disasters, both natural and man-made. However, from the percentage mentioned, only 68.6 percent addressed issues about at-risk residents.

Elements of an Emergency Response Plan

Emergency preparedness is one of the most crucial parts of any business or organization. It is an ever-evolving process to ensure the safety of the resources present within the company. The plan must continually undergo modification to suit the possible present and future situations or threats. It is necessary to stress the importance of having a comprehensive plan with the following elements.

Objectives: Establish clear intentions within the emergency response plan. It is also necessary to undergo a thorough process of analyzing each component relating to the goals. The plan’s objectives include identifying and evaluating potential hazards and vulnerabilities, creating emergency response teams, limiting the financial consequences of a disaster, protecting employees and consumers during a crisis, managing business continuity, and transitioning to normal work conditions after the incident.Regulation compliance: Integrating regulation compliance into an emergency response plan is compulsory as mandated by local, state, and federal laws. It also prevents the company from suffering from fines and liabilities when a disaster occurs. The plan must detail data security, chemical and hazardous waste disposal, explosives handling, fire prevention, emergency areas, first aid and medical resources, and machine safety. It is beneficial to plan according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for approved and appropriate practices.Risk analysis: Each business must undergo a risk assessment to evaluate how the company fairs to particular disasters. It also helps to assess and identify potential emergencies, levels of concern and assign resources accordingly. Despite being in a sustainable area, it is advisable to start preparing for all disasters, even if the occurrence is near impossible. Risk mitigation: After identifying all possible risk scenarios, it is advisable to audit present policies, practices, and facilities upon classifying existing vulnerabilities. The emergency response plan outlines immediate actions the business takes to alleviate the level of concern before it becomes alarming. For example, backing up the data system through the cloud or hard drives, annual reviews of insurance policies to ensure it covers all possible hazards, and assuring that security systems are up-to-date and in excellent working condition. Including these into your plan helps with avoiding significant disasters and limits damages. Business impact analysis: It is safe to assess the kind of impact these unpredictable disasters can do on the business. Despite the inaccuracy of the predicting outcomes of these incidents, setting up concrete plans for different emergencies that also accounts for the duration helps businesses to endure. Companies must at least have arrangements to settle lost profits, additional payments to maintain transactions, delays and cancellations with shipping or delivery, customer grievances, insurance deductions, and fines and penalties relating to regulations and enduring contracts. Knowing the possible consequences of preparing too late or not preparing at all helps companies to see what issues they will face in the future.Emergency response teams: The business’ emergency response plan must contain an emergency response team. It lists the names of team members, their roles and responsibilities, and contact information. Whether the management composes a pre-selected team through screening and interviews, or they assign an individual to coordinate all the activities and select their team members, either one is a viable process. The management can also divide responsibilities into multiple groups in handling various situations. One team is responsible for communication, while the other is for evacuation. Emergency response systems: The most critical part of any emergency response plan is the procedure. It must be detailed, comprehensive, and executable, along with the people responsible for performing the actions. An effective plan outlines situational, crisis-dependent operations, including procedures for security breaches, pandemic preparedness, fires, tornadoes, terrorism, hazardous and chemical spills, and heavy machinery. It also matters that these schemes cover all potential hazards and risks, prioritizing the safety of employees, consumers, business properties, and the general public. It must also highlight financial interests, data security, customer service, employee support, and return to normal operations. Emphasize outlining communication procedures when it comes to disasters. It is also advisable to include emergency response numbers from local, state, and federal agencies. Including contingency plans are also encouraged.Training programs: Detailing the training programs of the response teams and employees to know the exact actions to take during emergencies. Outside agencies specializing in emergency response can come on-site to deliver the training programs to employees. It is also advisable to create emergency preparedness checklists and action plan handbooks for uniformity. The emergency response plan must also establish schedules of training programs and response drills to guarantee each employee understands the most basic information and practice.Improvement strategy: Despite having a concrete plan, it’s advisable to look into it on an annual basis and make necessary improvements along the way because of improving technology, threats, and capabilities. Your emergency plan should continuously undergo evaluations to enhance current strategies. The company should hold annual emergency response meetings to discuss changes, analyze possible vulnerabilities, and implement needed revisions. It is also necessary to keep all past documents and revision histories, and each reiteration must be immediately distributed to employees once it is final.

How to Develop an Emergency Response Plan

There is no downside to preparing for the worst-case scenarios. Instead, motivate every individual within the organization to participate in developing and implementing the company’s emergency response plan. Following these steps can help you in creating a solid foundation for an effective emergency response plan.

Step 1: Understand the Possible Scenarios

The first step in any emergency response plan is to identify the types of emergencies that can occur on-site. It includes various hazards, from waste management to possible terrorist activities. Do not limit your response planning within the company’s boundaries, as external factors may also contribute to emergencies. Consider how each unique scenario impacts the company and list all possible effects it has.

Step 2: Define the Proper Actions

Understanding and identifying the various emergencies the company may experience help with determining the appropriate actions you want your employees to take. Nothing is simple, and you cannot just tell your employees to pack up and leave when everything seems chaotic. Clearly defining the possible and suitable response also helps with their safety.

Step 3: Design Assembly Areas and Verify Secure Routes

Designating safe locations where workers meet after an evacuation is of utmost importance. Also, creating alternative rallying points is desirable in cases where the area is hazardous. Aside from an alternate rally point, include various routes in case the pathways are blocked or unsafe. Having these secure locations is useless if your employees cannot reach them or if they suffer injuries along the way. Check all routes toward the rally point frequently to avoid possible obstructions and ensure that the pathway remains safe. Remember to inform your employees never to leave unnecessary materials from blocking passageways.

Step 4: Always Account for Each Individual

Create a system that guarantees every employee is well accounted for after an immediate evacuation. You can assign team leaders for each floor to have an employee list for verification once everyone is safely at the rallying point. For locations that use access cards or security verifications, guarantee real-time records for faster validation. One of the best ways to account for everyone is through implementing the buddy system, wherein employees pair up with one another and are responsible for knowing the other’s location.

Step 5: Plan the Initiation of Response Drills

The best way to do drills is to have a schedule. It is difficult to propose a response drill if every worker on-site is busy finishing up projects or work quotas. Before issuing the exercise, take note of the location and the number of participants joining. If setting up drills is out of the question, perhaps meeting with small teams and discussing evacuation procedures is the best approach. In doing so, you can emphasize the importance of evacuation and necessary compliance. It also serves as a way to helps the employees understand their roles of being at a safe location. Refresh their memories by identifying where the emergency exits are and how to operate the alarm system.

Step 6: Set Up Annual Meetings for Revision

Over time, worksites undergo necessary renovations and improvements, meaning their structure is different from the year before. Each change may impact your emergency response plan. That is why it is crucial to hold annual meetings to review the systems and make constant changes and revisions to keep up with the times. After all, the plan will not be of use if it cannot undergo proper implementation.

FAQs

What are the four steps of emergency response?

There are four phases when it comes to emergency response, and it includes mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Mitigation refers to the prevention of future emergencies or minimizing their effects. These activities take place before and after the crisis. Preparedness, on the other hand, refers to the plans and preparations to save lives and help with response and rescue operations. These activities happen before emergencies. The response includes actions individuals take to prevent further impact and puts the plan into action. Response activities happen during an emergency. Meanwhile, recovery involves the steps taken after a crisis and establishes procedures that help businesses return to normal operations.

What is the purpose of an emergency response plan?

An emergency response plan specifies the needed procedures to manage sudden and unexpected situations. The objective is to always prepare in preventing fatalities or injuries, reducing damage to property and equipment, protecting the community and environment, and accelerating recovery to resume normal operations.

What are the 3 C’s of emergencies?

Chaotic and unpredictable behavior hinders individuals in responding properly during emergencies. However, in these situations, remember the three c’s: check, call, and care. Check means you have to look and be aware of things that pose unsafe conditions. It is unwise to rush without assessing the situation because it leads to harming yourself and others. In emergencies, it is best to call 911 as immediate responders. Inspect the scene and gather useful information and relay it to local authorities to get them involved as soon as possible. Lastly, provide sufficient care until medical professionals arrive on the scene.

In any given situation, it is better to create a plan that helps the company pull through. Preparing an emergency response plan helps not only the company but also the individuals working in it. It also guarantees that lesser risk and damages for equipment as well. In many localities and states, local, statutory and federal laws require organizations to create an emergency response plan, with particular guidelines to follow. There is nothing worse than not preparing for the worst-case scenario. Remember the saying, prevention is better than cure. The aftermath of not preparing for disasters may take a toll on the company in the long run. Prepare for everyone’s safety by using and downloading the emergency response plan samples above.