Emergency Response Guidelines and Action Plans For Life Safety

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Emergency Plan for Life Safety

It goes without saying that the best time to prepare for an emergency is definitely long before it happens. On the off chance that a tropical storm or other extreme weather conditions hit, you will not have the opportunity to make an evacuation plan on the spot as you'll be too busy focusing on immediate hazards. Furthermore, in the event that your building has a blackout, it's most likely past the point where it is possible to go looking for generators.

With that said, taking a proactive strategy for emergency planning helps you guarantee the ideal results for your people and business while allowing you to think comprehensively think at the same time about the circumstance, representing a large number of factors. This approach reduces to an all-encompassing and holistic emergency response plan for every one of the dangers you may face along the way.

While we can't be guaranteed to anticipate when critical events will occur, emergencies are a reality in everyone's life —so you should be prepared. In this article, we will talk about the emergency response plan, what it is, and how to do it.

Emergency Response Plan: What is it?

first aid kitAn emergency response plan is a record that spreads out the series of steps your organization will take during a critical or emergency situation (i.e., fire, active shooter threat, earthquake, etc.) to guarantee employees' safety and limit the effect on critical operations. As such, emergency response plans —very much like other emergency management planning documents— are intended to assist organizations in tending to different sorts of emergencies, for example, hurricanes, storms, wildfires, winter weather, chemical spills, disease outbreaks, and other hazards.

Ultimately, the objective is to lessen or forestall human injury and property harm during these emergency situations. The planning phase includes reporting the means your association will take in every one of these steps to guarantee a timely response customized to every situation. Furthermore, these plans additionally include specific roles and responsibilities by determining which staff members should lead the "response team" and which members are considered first responders.

So, what should you include in your emergency response plan? The best emergency response plans include a list of people to contact (and their contact number), evacuation routes courses, the proper behavior during an emergency, the mitigation strategy to employ in order to decrease risk among people and facilities, as well as detailed communication procedures to utilize during and after a particular emergency happens.

All things considered, plans can vary generally contingent upon the setting and conditions encompassing the emergency. It's essential to make an arrangement that records life-saving activities, for example:

  • Designating evacuation centers in case of emergency (like fire)

  • Shelter-in-place orders in case of extremely bad weather conditions (like tornadoes)

  • Complete lockdown in case of invasion (like an active shooter incident)

Emergency Response Planning Process: How to Do It?

Needless to say, every organization has its own unique and specific way of dealing with emergencies at hand. There are extra measures employed and practiced in one that does not necessarily work on the other. So, the question now is, what are the steps to take to ensure a good, reliable, and efficient emergency response plan?

Step One: Conduct a "Threat" Assessment

First of all, you should make an emergency response plan by conducting a comprehensive threat assessment that will essentially distinguish the kinds of events that may affect your organization and analyze their probability and potential impact. As such, there are threats with specific aspects of concern in location, sector, and company, where the mitigation techniques will depend upon the situation.

The following are disastrous events that ought to be planned and well-prepared for:

  • Natural disasters — Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, etc.

  • Severe weather — Winter storms, high winds, extreme heat waves, floods, etc.

  • Pandemics and infectious diseases — COVID-19, influenza, etc.

  • Facility emergencies — Structure fires, hazardous leaks or spills, etc.

  • Acts of workplace violence — Active shooters, bomb threats, terrorist attacks, etc.

  • Civil disturbances — Protests, demonstrations, riots, strikes, etc.

Moreover, when you talk about an emergency or crisis, it does not always have to be life-threatening. Sometimes, an emergency occurs because a planned response for the success of the business and the safety of the team may be deemed necessary.

  • IT-RELATED INCIDENTS — Unplanned outages, planned downtime or maintenance, system testing, cyberattacks or security breaches, help desk escalations, etc.

  • Operational events — Logistics coordination, power outages, equipment malfunctions, office closures, travel advisories, safety alerts, shift, and overtime scheduling, etc.

  • Corporate/crisis communication events — Product recalls negative publicity, layoffs, major company news, etc.

Step Two: Document Contact Information

In case of a crisis that could physically inflict harm on the workers, the first call you ought to make is to your local emergency responders. Besides 9-1-1, you should have the list of numbers for emergency medical services (EMS), the fire department, healthcare providers/insurance agents, and local law enforcement/police department readily available. Apart from that, you should also prepare emergency contact information documented for each worker on the off chance that somebody goes unaccounted for or gets harmed during the emergency.

Step Three: Designate Roles and Responsibilities

At the point when an emergency happens, workers will look to (and, most of the time, rely upon) their leaders for consolation and guidance. This is why leaders should take charge of initiating the emergency response plan, answering important questions, and ordering evacuation steps when deemed crucial at some point. It is also part of the leader's responsibility to assign roles and responsibilities to other team members. In selecting these roles, the "response" team picked should be present-minded, reliable, and responsive in the face of an emergency where immense pressure is felt at the scene.

Here are the main roles to consider as part of your emergency response plan:

Incident commander

He or she must assume general responsibility and liability regarding a crisis, including arranging and planning. This person is also accountable for emergency response plan activation and is the one that gives a "go" signal to all choices made before, during, and after an emergency.

Communication commander

He or she ought to utilize the mass alert system to advise employees, call emergency services, and accumulate reports. In the event that your organization is utilizing an emergency communication system, ensure this individual is a system admin.

Scene supervisor

He or she controls admittance (or access) to the emergency scene and is in charge of keeping individuals far from hazardous and unsafe areas.

Building utilities manager(s)

He or she should be familiar with the areas and elements of controls for building utility and life safety and protection systems. These systems include ventilation, electrical shutoffs, water, and sanitary systems, emergency power supplies, and alarm systems.

Course guide(s)

If the situation calls for an evacuation, he or she should assume a significant part in guaranteeing that routes are clear and evacuation is orderly and calm. This person must likewise assist with clearing evacuation routes and help those with mobility issues.

Step Four: Inspect the resources available

In this step, you ought to check out current stocks inside your organization. Ask yourself a question, have you examined those dusty office fire quenchers, alarm systems, or first aid kits recently? Do you think the stock would suffice in case of an emergency?

Listed below are basic parts to any emergency response plan, so inspect them consistently:

Fire extinguishers and alarms

In case of a fire emergency, the National Fire Protection Association recommends topping off reusable fire extinguishers every ten (10) years and replacing disposable ones every twelve (12) years. Occasionally remind your employees where the fire extinguishers are situated in the workplace so they will know where to get them in case of a fire outbreak.

Fundamentally, fire alarms should likewise be regularly maintained and tested for optimal functionality. There should also be fire drills conducted from time to time, so the whole group can get used to and be familiar with the whole evacuation process.

Alarm Systems

Inspect fire alarm systems every year at any rate. OSHA suggests testing non-supervised employee alarm systems once every two (2) months. This inspection covers a large group of subtleties, contingent upon the kind of alarm system, similar to a review of the control panel(s), test of all related gadgets like smoke alarms and heat detectors, warning systems operations, and batteries and power.

First aid kit

It's been required by OSHA that "employers provide medical and first aid supplies commensurate with the hazards of the workplace." Since numerous things in a first aid kit have expiration dates—typically ranging only three (3) to five (5) years after manufacture—and can become harmed by frequent use, moisture, and exposure to the air, it is vital to routinely check your first aid kit and supplant any supplies on a case by case basis.

As a proactive approach, restock things after use and review medical aid supplies at regular intervals (or every three months). You should also provide the necessary first aid training, so your team is ready to use these supplies and help other members or even you in emergencies.

Step Five: Determine your response plan steps

After which, you can now decide what steps to follow in an emergency. Modify every emergency response, so the procedures are explicit and clear.

Make certain to likewise contemplate your disaster recovery efforts or what you do once the emergency at hand is successfully handled. By making a good recovery strategy, your business will have the ability to move forward and get back to normal operations as soon as possible. For instance, in the event that you have a spill of hazardous materials, your emergency response plan will include how to keep people safe and how to contain the spill. Furthermore, the recovery part of your plan will make sense of how to clean up the spill and get that area of the building back to safe working conditions.

For instance, this is the way you could approach making arrangements for an evacuation response:

Emergency fire evacuation plan: A Sample

A good fire evacuation plan for your business should include primary and secondary escape routes. There should also be clear signs that will mark all the exit routes and fire escapes. In addition to that, the exit routes should be free from furniture or enormous objects that may cause blockage or, worse, stampede during the crisis. If the office is large, there should be multiple maps of floor plans and diagrams made available so employees will be familiar with the evacuation routes. If possible, developing a separate evacuation plan for handicapped people or anyone with disabilities is also a good mitigation strategy to employ.

And then, as soon as the employees are out of the building, there should be a gathering point of assembly. The response team should help facilitate the situation by collecting a head count and giving updates to reduce panic among the crowd. Lastly, the escape routes and assembly area should be expansive enough to accommodate the number of employees who will be evacuating.

Step Six: Decide how to communicate with your employees

For the last step, one thing that should always be available in the emergency response plan is the means by which you will communicate. While fostering your emergency communication plan, consider how to notify team members of a critical occasion, how the data will be delivered and received, and how efficient your emergency communication system will be at arriving at each employee in danger. During critical events, phone calls and emails are no longer enough. Manual phone trees, on the other hand, are prone to misinformation and long delays, and an email-ready system alone doesn't cut it for crisis correspondence.

Thus, research proposes that 65% of employees open internal emails. For laborers continually immersed with messages, internal emails don't make sense of urgency required for the time-sensitive message. Furthermore, hourly and frontline individuals (i.e., retail associates and distribution center laborers, etc.) frequently don't have a company email address by any means, or they don't approach it from their own phones beyond business hours. Furthermore, on the off chance that phone lines are down or email is difficult to reach —as can frequently be the situation in crisis circumstances—your workers might very well never get the message.

Moreover, in the event that the company tech department is hit with an IT virus, for instance, depending on email as the main correspondence channel would be futile and maybe even counterproductive. With this, it is important to incorporate emergency response layouts in your emergency response plan so you can send messages about an occurrence as fast as hitting a button.

Emergency Planning, Emergency Services, & Emergency Preparedness

emergency planning, emergency guidelines, emergency preparednessTo conclude, the emergency services and planning process should be properly planned in order to decrease the loss of resources, time, and life. As such, the actions taken in the first minutes of an emergency are critical as they may make or break an emergency plan. This entails a prompt warning to employees to evacuate, shelter, or lockdown to save lives and minimize casualties. Furthermore, a call for help to public emergency services will give full and accurate information, which can help the dispatcher send the right responders and equipment. As mentioned above, there should also be designated emergency response personnel and a set of emergency responders to oversee the whole activation of the emergency plan, such as administering first aid or performing CPR on the scene.

At point when a crisis happens, the primary goal is always, first and foremost, life safety. Perhaps the second priority is the stabilization of the incident. There are many actions that can be made to balance out an incident and limit potential damage to only a certain extent. Moreover, first aid and CPR by trained workers can save lives. Likewise, the utilization of fire extinguishers via trained workers can extinguish the onset of fire. In another instance, control of a little chemical spill and supervision of building utilities and systems can limit harm to the building and assist with forestalling ecological harm.

In any case, each office should develop and implement an emergency plan to uphold the safety, welfare, and overall well-being of their employees, visitors, contractors, and every single person in the office. This part of the emergency plan is called "protective actions for life safety" and includes building evacuation ("fire drills"), sheltering from severe weather such as tornadoes, and "shelter-in-place" from an exterior airborne hazard such as a chemical release and lockdown.

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