Emergency Response Planning in Large Organizations: Optimizing Your Plan Through Standardization and Web-Based Systems

Steve Bassine

Despite emphasis on standardization among industries, there's a lack of response planning standardization for large companies

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The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards. These collaborative standards and guidelines punctuate best practices for various processes. Despite the ISO’s emphasis on standardization among industry practices worldwide, there is often a lack of emergency response planning standardization for large companies with multiple facilities. Implementing a standardized, best practices response plan that addresses unique site-specific, facility hazards and response capabilities is an effective approach for an enterprise emergency management program. Implementing web-based response planning tools can greatly facilitate this process and also improve subsequent management of these plans.

Standardizing Response Plans Across Facilities

Large companies often utilize more than one plan type for each facility. By standardizing formats, response plans can be integrated to comply with a complex array of federal, state and local requirements while still ensuring application of common information across multiple site plans.

A standardized response plan template should, at a minimum, include:

  • Consistent plan format
  • Notification procedures
  • Response team organization
  • Best practices response strategies
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Layout and content of fire pre-plans, if applicable
  • Plot plan and legend
  • Demobilization procedures
  • Company and Incident Command System (ICS) forms

Response plans should ultimately reflect the unique conditions of each facility. Facility-specific criteria related to location details, risks and hazards, appropriate response actions, and regulatory compliance requirements should all be included in a site’s plan. Each site or emergency manager should also verify the accuracy of the site-specific information in the response plan. According to FEMA, effective and efficient response plans should be adequate, feasible, acceptable, complete, and compliant.

Managing Multiple Response Plans with Web-Based Planning Systems

When an organization utilizes several different types of response plans for each facility, (e.g., business continuity plans, fire pre-plans, facility response plans), the level of responsibility for managing these plans increases exponentially. Web-based emergency response planning systems utilize one database to manage common information, effectively limiting the duplication of tasks generated by plan updates. In addition to reducing administrative time and maintenance costs, this allows content and revision efforts to be applied to all plans and locations that utilize the data. With the proper tools, plan updates are more likely to be executed on a more frequent basis, optimizing the accuracy of the plans.

Large companies are also required to comply with numerous laws, regulations, standards and practices established by regulatory agencies. Database technology and standardized formats enable these companies to effectively manage compliance on an enterprise-wide level. It also allows companies to prioritize best practices of standardization, safety practices and response processes throughout the company.

Even if a company takes adequate preventive measures, no one can fully predict when an emergency will occur. Having widely accessible, compliant and manageable emergency response plans is key to minimizing the impacts of an adverse incident. Click here to learn how Jensen Hughes can assist with implementing web-based emergency response planning in your organization.

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