Beginners guide to emergency response plans

7 steps to create an effective emergency response plan

Every second counts in an emergency. You don’t have time to delegate and plan. Everyone needs to know where they stand and what to do, thus ensuring a rapid and smart resolution.

An emergency response plan can be the difference between order and disorder, the difference between an organized evacuation and complete pandemonium.

Whether you’re creating a new ERP from scratch, tweaking an existing one, or using emergency management software to quickly build a comprehensive and reliable plan, the following guide will ensure it’s ready to go when you need it.

What is an emergency response plan?

An emergency response plan (ERP) is a document that outlines the steps an organization will take following an emergency, such as a fire, hurricane, earthquake, or active shooter situation.

The purpose of an ERP is to reduce the risk of physical harm and property damage while minimizing the impact on the organization’s critical operations.

An ERP will typically include elements such as:

  • Evacuation routes
  • Fire exit locations
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Shelter locations (in the event of hurricanes)
  • Lockdown instructions

Why should you use an emergency response plan template?

Emergency response plans are multi-faceted and the exact content can vary by organization. However, they usually follow a similar set of guidelines and highlight the same information.

An ERP created by a large organization spread across multiple floors and involving hundreds of people may be more complicated than one created by a company of half a dozen working out of a small office. But ultimately, it has the same objective and aims to cover the same information.

As a result, there’s no need to create an ERP from scratch. You can simply use a pre-existing template and input details specific to your company and employees.

It makes your life easier and ensures no stone is left unturned. That’s why we provide a catch-all software solution for ERPs.

You use security software, software to handle maintenance requests, and programs to deal with sales, payroll, and visitor management; it’s what keeps your company ticking over. So, why not use software that could protect your company during a life-threatening emergency?

How to conduct emergency response planning

To ensure that all bases are covered, keep the following steps in mind when creating an ERP:

1. Conduct a threat assessment

The first step is to conduct a threat/risk assessment to identify the type of risks that your company could be exposed to. These include serious and life-threatening events, as well as events that could severely impact operations and profitability:

  • Natural disasters and severe weather
  • Pandemics
  • Fires
  • Workplace violence
  • Rioting
  • IT outages
  • Maintenance downtime
  • Equipment malfunctions
  • Product recalls

Remember, emergency response planning looks a little different from one organization to the next and you may also need to account for risks specific to your company, such as those involving equipment malfunctions and major safety issues.

2. Document all contact information

In the event of a serious and life-threatening emergency, the first call should be 911. But they can’t help you if the company is forced to halt the manufacture/sale of a product due to a recall. Therefore, an ERP should include other numbers that may be required during an emergency, such as:

  • Local police department
  • Insurance agents
  • Healthcare providers

You should also document the emergency contact information of every employee in case they get injured or go missing during an emergency.

3. Assign team members roles and responsibilities

The last thing you want to do in a crisis is start assigning roles and responsibilities. You don’t want supervisors, managers, and directors trying to shout over each other. Roles should be assigned in advance so that employees know who to follow.

The most important roles include:

Incident commander

The person in charge and the one responsible for activating the ERP and making critical decisions.

Scene supervisor

The scene supervisor is in charge of the emergency scene. They must keep it contained while ensuring employees avoid unsafe areas.

Communication commander

The person tasked with notifying employees of the emergency (such as via a public address system) and contacting emergency services.

Building utilities manager

Manages important utilities, such as fire safety systems and alarms.

Route guide

The route guide clears evacuation routes and ensures employees leave in an orderly manner while directly assisting those with mobility issues. Large organizations may need multiple route guides.

4. Take inventory of emergency resources

How long have those fire extinguishers and first aid kits been hanging from the wall? When was the last time you tested alarm systems? These aren’t items that you can buy and then forget about for 5, 10, or even 20 years. During an emergency, they could be the only thing keeping your employees alive, so they should be examined regularly to ensure they are fully operational and available in adequate numbers.

Emergency resources include:

Fire extinguishers

Disposable fire extinguishers should be replaced every 10 to 12 years while reusable ones should be refilled in the same timeframe. Your employees should also know where the fire extinguishers are at all times.

First aid kits

Many items in a first aid kit have expiration dates and these dates vary by item type.

The dates can also be shortened if the kits are constantly being opened and used.

First aid kits should be restocked and replaced regularly and the items should be proportionate to workplace hazards.

Alarm systems

Fire alarms are critical in any workplace and should be used throughout the building and checked at least once a year. Other alarms should also be checked regularly.

5. Define response plan steps

What steps should be taken during an emergency? For instance, if there is a fire, employees should be told to make for the escape routes and ensure those routes are clearly signposted and free of obstructions. They can then head for an assembly point where a headcount is conducted and the emergency services are called.

6. Communicate the emergency response plan with employees

How will you inform employees of an emergency? Are those lines of communication reliable and infallible? Will they still be available if the power is out and/or the phone lines are down? Can you be sure that you’re reaching every single employee?

Multi-channel mass-notification systems are used by many large organizations. These systems send alerts through SMS, email, social media, desktops, and more.

7. Conduct a practice drill

Finally, after creating your ERP, it’s time to test it.

Create a practice drill that simulates a particular emergency (such as a fire) and incorporates all of the elements in the plan. Obviously, you shouldn’t phone the emergency services, but employees should perform their assigned duties and follow the instructions outlined in the plan.

Summary: Creating an emergency response plan

An ERP is something you may never need but should always have. In the event of an emergency, it could play a pivotal role in keeping your employees safe and minimizing the damage to property and operations.

Creating an effective ERP takes time, but with our ERP software, it couldn’t be easier.

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