Why All Businesses Need an Emergency Response Plan

    Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear a news story involving an emergency: weather catastrophes, fires, intense medical situations and occasionally the angry gunman. If any of these situations occurred in your place of work, would the staff know what to do, who to contact or where to go? And afterward, would anyone have information about how to access critical documentation and company information if the business was destroyed or otherwise unable to be open for business?

    A detailed emergency response plan provides guidance for employees in the event of a disaster. Having a plan will help workers make it through the chaos and to a safe location or assist personnel in getting medical assistance should it be needed.

    Besides having a written plan, it’s also important for the organization to set up a team to lead others in the event of an emergency. The team can help create the emergency response plan. They will hold the master document and provide guidance to co-workers in a disaster scenario, such as how to evacuate the building during a fire or tornado. Many of them will be trained in areas of first aid and will know exactly where supplies can be found should they be needed.

    Of course, the size of the team and the scope of the emergency response plan will depend upon many factors, including the size of the organization, the layout of the business and the types of jobs performed there. For example, the plan from Carnegie Mellon University lists five separate response teams plus seven resource teams that help keep telecommunications, food, facilities, medical and university services functional in the event of an emergency.

    Another example from the California Energy Commission lists how it would coordinate with local government to provide energy during a catastrophic event. Of course, this assumes that more than just the office is affected, but some organizations will require this level of planning to ensure the community is safe and continues to function if a weather emergency or other such large-scale event were to happen.

    Emergency Response Plan

    To help your business create its own emergency response plan, our IT Downloads area provides a PDF from FEMA to guide you through the steps. It breaks down the document into important sections, including:

    • Company policies
    • Organizational statements
    • Evacuation plans
    • Medical emergency information
    • Emergency response teams and contact information

    Using this PDF as its guide, an organization can elect a team and then gather the team and department heads to collaborate on creating a detailed plan for the entire company. All areas of the organization and building should be considered and represented. Also, once a plan is finalized, it should be distributed to all employees and saved to a secure website that is available outside of the business, just in case servers go down or the building is inaccessible.

    Kim Mays has been editing and writing about IT since 1999. She currently tackles the topics of small to midsize business technology and introducing new tools for IT. Follow Kim on Twitter @blumoonky.

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