Preparing for Your Next Emergency: Do You Have A Plan?

Steve Bassine

When an incident occurs, it is important to address the defining moments to better prepare and prevent the next one.

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No one can fully predict when an emergency will happen. Environmental, man-made, or technology-related events in the form of accidents, natural disasters, or intentional harm may occur at any given time without warning. When an adverse incident occurs, it is important to understand and address the defining moments, actions, intentions, and perceptions surrounding it to ensure that we are better prepared to manage, if not prevent the next one.

Utilizing the lessons learned from an incident can improve response capabilities and lessen the impact of future disasters. However, there may be certain site-specific elements related to location, operations and response efforts that require development of specific safety processes and response procedures for each hazard, associated risk and operational threat. A thorough and efficient planning process can help companies counteract deficiencies and develop response plans that will reduce the impact of adverse incidents.

Form a Collaborative Team

Essential personnel should be engaged in the planning process to identify planning gaps, capabilities, and necessary internal and external resources for an improved response. Core planning teams typically include an emergency manager or security manager, a hazard mitigation expert, local regulator(s), and any additional planning experts.

Reevaluate Priorities, Processes Hazards and Risks

Understanding the consequences of a potential incident can ultimately help prioritize resources and response efforts. After the team is assembled, a vulnerability assessment should be performed to determine priorities and develop processes and procedures. Additionally, teams should assess the planning framework of local agencies to highlight geographical threats as well as examine potential facility risks including natural, technological, chemical, infrastructure and human hazards.

Determine Goals and Objectives

Once priorities, processes, hazards, and risks are reassessed, the team should specify desired operational priorities for emergency responders, employees, and facilities and define success for each operation. The desired result, goal or objective of the overall response should be clearly indicated.

Plan Development

Utilizing established goals and objectives, the planning team should develop at least two actionable response options for each potential scenario while also identifying the information and intelligence necessary to drive decision-making and trigger critical response actions. Moreover, available resources should be matched to requirements, response obligations and assignments. This can help identify internal response shortfalls requiring external capabilities and additional response assistance.

Plan Preparation and Implementation

As the planning team works through drafts of the response plans, participants should add necessary supporting information, taking note to comply with federal, state, and local regulations. Training, exercises, and real incidents are also helpful in determining whether the goals, objectives, decisions, actions, and timing outlined in the plan can lead to a successful and effective response.

Plan Maintenance and Annual Review

Planning is a continuous process and should evolve as lessons are learned, new information and insights are obtained, and priorities are updated. Therefore, planning teams should establish a process for reviewing and revising a response plan on an annual basis or as internal corporate policy may dictate. Plan reviews should include internal and external contact verification processes, regulatory compliance audits, updated operational or infrastructure changes, and training on new/additional roles and responsibilities.

Get Help with Your Emergency Response Plan

Whether plans are mandated by corporate policy or regulatory agencies, widely accessible emergency response plans can maximize efficiency and minimize the impacts of an emergency on employees, the environment, and infrastructure. Click here to learn more about how Jensen Hughes can assist with emergency response planning in your organization.

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