Utilizing Web-Based Response Planning Systems to Maximize Emergency Preparedness

Steven J. Bassine

October 13 is Disaster Risk Reduction Day — having an emergency preparedness plan can help you stay alert and ready.

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Emergency preparedness plans aren’t created for “if” an emergency happens but for “when” it happens. Fortunately, web-based response planning systems can help improve your preparedness and ability to effectively respond to emergencies.

Prior to the emergence of web-based response planning software, emergency plan formats often varied from one facility to another, making it difficult to manage training, compliance efforts, accuracy and consistency of response procedures. However, increasingly available and more reliable technology has expedited the transition from archaic binder-based plans to readily accessible enterprise-wide response plans.

Web-based response planning systems can simplify the planning process and improve compliance and the overall effectiveness of emergency management programs. These systems also provide the flexibility to:

  • Be site-specific for different facility locations
  • Address complex regulatory requirements and
  • Be utilized for multiple plan types

Shared Data Minimizes System Administration Costs

It is common for multiple plan types to be required for each facility. These plan types may address emergency response, business continuity, security, fire, severe weather and others. Multiple plan types exponentially increases the time required to manage those plans. Response planning software applications utilize relational database technology to link common information, thereby minimizing plan maintenance time and costs and reducing errors.

Optimized Efficiency Enables an Actionable Response

When best practices are consistently implemented, response plans can be useful for responders. However, effective response plans require periodic updates due to changing personnel, external response contacts and response equipment. These factors increase the time required to effectively manage these plans, especially for large operations.

Advanced response planning applications utilize database technology to enable repetitive information to be linked and duplicated in multiple plan types and locations across an enterprise. By eliminating the need for time-consuming duplicate updates, plan revisions are more likely to be implemented in a timely manner, thereby optimizing plan accuracy, compliance and incident response.

Instantly Updated Data Eliminates “Version Confusion”

With web-based technology, revised information is available to all stakeholders in “real-time.” Multiple versions of paper and intranet-based plans can potentially confuse and misinform response teams, potentially leading to a slower response and a host of other consequences that may result in higher costs and damage to a company’s reputation. Web-based software eliminates “version confusion” and allows responders to access the most up-to-date information.

Streamlined Functionality Improves Response Time and Compliance

Easy-to-follow response plans enable responders to implement response in accordance with proven best practices. Web-based plans can provide hyperlinks, forms libraries, simplified interfaces, and other tools to help simplify plan navigation for users. Better plan access expedites response actions, leading to a more effective response.

Increased Accessibility Allows for Better Planning and Preparedness

Although the intranet approach has improved overall plan accessibility, other significant challenges remain, such as plan maintenance, version control and consistency. Increasing accessibility options while improving efficiency, functionality and effectiveness can greatly improve an entire emergency management program.

During an emergency, paper plans may not be available at the site(s). Moreover, if a location-specific incident renders company servers inaccessible, response plans hosted on a company intranet may become unavailable. Web-based planning system software offers improved accessibility via the Internet or mobile app.

Whether plans are mandated by corporate policy or regulatory agencies, implementing a web-based response planning system across your enterprise can maximize efficiency and minimize the impact of an emergency on employees, the environment and company reputation. This approach facilitates a streamlined and consistent response process and ensures that a company is adequately prepared to respond to an emergency “when” it occurs. To learn more about Disaster Risk Reduction Day, click here.

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