How fast is your emergency response time?
If a crisis or emergency situation were to occur within your organization, would your staff know what to do? Would they be able to react quickly and efficiently, easily transitioning from their day-to-day routine into response mode?
In a crisis or emergency situation, time is not on your side. The quicker you can respond, the better equipped you will be to address the issue. Whether the crisis impacts personal safety or brand reputation – or both – you need a solid plan in place so that your staff can spring into action right away.
Tighten Up Your Crisis Communication Plan
If you don’t have a crisis communication plan, like the one from ready.gov, you need one. In a nutshell, when a crisis or emergency situation occurs, it provides instructions on communicating vital information within the organization as well as to employee families, emergency responders, government officials, stakeholders, customers, the media, and the community. It allows all impacted personnel to remain informed and increase communication across the board.
You should review your crisis communication plan every year at the very least. Some organizations do a thorough review each quarter. After all, it is a living document that must be updated every time a stakeholder is hired, fired, quits, retires, gets promoted, changes job responsibilities, or changes devices. In fact, a request to update your plan should be a part of your onboarding packets as well as your exit packets and with the issuance of new devices and transfers.
Get a Central System for Tracking and Reporting
Using multiple software and applications for crisis and emergency management is inefficient, time-consuming, and burdensome. It is far too easy to miscommunicate something when information is coming from several different sources through a variety of systems. Emergency response technology will improve response time and streamline communications by putting everyone on the same page with a single source of information.
Emergency response software like WebEOC allows organizations to improve incident management by allowing for faster, more effective collaboration. All information and response activities are contained within the software and are updated in real-time with capabilities for updates to occur in the field via the app as well as in the office. This means that no matter where your employees are, they can stay informed of updates and changes in the situation as they happen.
Create an SOP for Emergency Response
A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a guide that is designed to walk a person through the operations of a business. They are typically broken down into sections with each branch, division, or office having its own SOP. You need an SOP for your emergency response plan, also called an Emergency Action Plan (EAP).
The guide should take the reader step by step through each process and should be written in such a way that anyone could pick it up and follow the directions. In other words, if an employee is assigned a specific role in a crisis or emergency response and they are for whatever reason unable to carry out that role, someone else could step in and seamlessly transition to perform that function. It should include a guide to using the emergency management software, whether included directly within the text or in the appendix.
Your emergency response SOP should be a separate document. It should contain your crisis communication plan, important contacts, and information for responding in a crisis or emergency situation. All employees should know where it is located and be familiar with it. It should be broken down by department with easy to follow instructions for not only emergency response but operations of the organization as well.
Automate Crisis Alerts and Notifications
Effective, efficient communication is at the core of emergency management. While a crisis communication plan is essential, automating crisis notifications is equally important. Staff in the field, on location, or even off duty will need to be updated on events and any special instructions. Automating the notifications makes it faster and easier to provide impacted personnel with critical communication in a timely, efficient manner.
The calling tree is a prime example of a critical task that can be automated. It can provide instructions, ensure that all staff is accounted for, and escalate when necessary. The ability to deliver mass notifications in seconds is highly valuable in a situation where every second counts. Standardizing your emergency response protocol wherever you are able will shorten your response time in crisis situations and make your overall plan more effective.
Train and Run Drills with Your Staff
Once you have a plan in place you need to take your staff through it. Provide all employees with your emergency response protocol and ensure that they know the location of the emergency response SOP and how to use it. Walk them through an emergency situation so that they know what to do and when to do it.
Then conduct a drill.
When disaster strikes, you want a staff that is prepared, resilient, and confident. You want them to know where to go and what to do without hesitation. The more prepared your staff is for a crisis or emergency, the less likely they are to panic when they are faced with one. Do a full dress rehearsal as true to life as possible at least annually and do smaller scale drills at least every few months. Activate the calling tree, evacuate, activate the SOP – make it as true to life as you can.
Your organization’s emergency preparedness plan is more than just how your staff will react in a crisis. It can have lasting impacts on employees, their families, and the community as a whole. It could save lives.
At Juvare, we provide the emergency response technology that will streamline your processes and improve coordination through your organization and beyond. Join our wide network of users across state, federal, and local agencies as well as education, corporate, healthcare, and non-profits. Contact us today and learn how our software solutions can help improve your emergency response time.