Think about how your organization handled its last crisis. Was the emergency response successful? How was the communication between the departments and other stakeholders? Was there effective coordination between parties? Now think about the resources. Were they adequate to meet the demands during the emergency, or was there a shortfall? Did the necessary responders arrive on time, or was there a delay?
Why a Plan is Needed
During your organization’s latest crisis, whether far-reaching like the pandemic or a more isolated event, problems probably occurred. Whether to address steps that weren’t followed or to fill apparent holes in the existing emergency response procedure, emergency management software can help. As such, it can handle various problems that typically occur during an emergency.
Lack of Coordination and Understanding
Has your company had communication problems between responder levels or agencies, within your organization, or between all involved parties in prior emergencies? Being able to communicate during an emergency is an essential ingredient to successfully weathering a crisis. With an emergency communication system, you can share data and make critical workflows accessible to everyone through desktops and mobile devices. When set up correctly, this accessibility covers people internally and externally, so everyone is on the same page.
A Word About Mobile
For any emergency management software solution to be successful in 2021, it must offer a mobile option that’s just as good as what you see on the desktop. Mobile solutions let users stay on top of critical notifications about incidents regardless of their location. Additionally, data points entered into apps are immediately available to everyone to keep users connected to the command or emergency operations center.
Reactive vs. Proactive
Does your company have clear emergency plans in place, or do you react to crises when they occur? Activation is typically reactive, leaving responders scrambling to catch up. An organization’s preparedness heavily influences its emergency response. Successful crisis management software systems are designed with a careful understanding of the needs of emergency managers and incident commanders. From there, workflows are put into place to address your needs.
Additionally, with an emergency management plan in place, it’s essential to test your procedures and operations through drills. These tests should be performed regularly, especially with new personnel and whenever new buildings or locations in your organization go online.
During these tests, you can your chosen software to run simulations and be sure that your policy, protocols, and software knowledge remains fresh for everyone.
Incomplete or Incorrect Information
If your staff doesn’t have all the information they need, this can slow down their emergency response. Handling a crisis successfully, in part, is influenced by what steps were taken after the last one. You should put together an after-action report to address what worked and didn’t work. This should include detailed, accurate, and complete information at activation or when a crisis begins.
It’s also best to set aside time for emergency responders to discuss ways to improve policies moving forward. Feedback is an additional way to improve response time and the effectiveness of your plan. As part of your training, ensure that every team member knows what their role is in an emergency and what they need to do within that role.
Loss of Communications
During a crisis, there may be a loss of communications or degraded communications capability. An emergency communications system makes it easier to contact essential personnel immediately once a situation begins. Before and during an emergency, critical messages should flow freely through various means, including email, push notifications, and the software’s control panel. Integration with third-party apps could also be necessary, depending on your situation. For example, you might want to integrate with Microsoft Teams, Slack, and your voice and text messaging systems.
As communication happens, event milestones should be automatically recorded and documented for those who need this information. This process needs to occur in real-time, capturing all system interactions with detailed event logging and significant event callouts.
Untrained Staff or Late Notification/Arrival
Emergencies don’t happen on a schedule or timeline. Because of this, it’s likely not everyone on your team will be available to assist, at least initially. Well-developed software systems make it easier to keep track of which individuals are on the scene — and those that aren’t.
Of course, another critical component is training or the lack thereof. Be sure to find a solution that caters to everyone, not just those who are computer savvy or crisis management experts. Ideally, a system should be user-friendly, allowing non-technical administrative users to routinely create forms and processes that get used during a crisis.
There may not be the necessary people or systems in place to handle a problem during a crisis. With the information noted above in hand, managers can adjust resources to meet the demands on the ground. The last thing you want to happen is a crisis to flare up, and you don’t have the necessary staff and tools to successfully respond.
Keep Your Emergency Planning Up to Date
Many businesses have used the same emergency preparedness documentation for decades. Unfortunately, this old-school “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” approach never considers the passage of time or what’s happening on the ground. Today, plans must be easier to recalculate based on both the fundamentals and current circumstances.
Software alone cannot make up for the lack of preparedness and planning. As such, a workforce must be adequately trained and exercised, with all stakeholders knowing what to do in an emergency.
Juvare solutions are used by multidimensional organizations across the United States, including 3,500+ U.S. hospitals, 42 state public health agencies, more than 50 federal departments and agencies, most of the largest non-profit U.S. healthy systems, and hundreds of corporations and private sector organizations. These include aviation, education, energy and utilities, healthcare, transportation, and many more.
Learn more about Juvare’s emergency management solutions.