Critical Communications, Public Alerting and Residential Safety

5 Emergency Management Resources to Help with Planning

By Shannon Gallo

The public relies on government agencies to provide guidance, assistance and supplies during a crisis, whether it’s a pandemic, natural disaster or any other critical event on the growing list of risks security leaders face today.

One of the best ways to mount an effective crisis response is to create a critical event management plan. Mapping out a clear plan takes time and effort, but it’s time well spent to protect your community in the event of a crisis.

The good news is, there’s no shortage of reliable emergency management resources to turn to for help. Here are the five most important ones to include in your planning:

1. Critical Communications Systems

Government agencies must notify the public about emergencies as soon as possible so everyone at risk can take immediate action. Critical communications systems, which include emergency mass notification systems (EMNS), let you send simultaneous alerts to residents, local businesses and other key stakeholders with multimodal delivery options, including:

  • Mobile and traditional phones
  • Email
  • SMS
  • Desktop alerts
  • Mobile push notifications
  • RSS feeds

Many organizations use cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions like OnSolve® CodeRED® to efficiently and effectively deliver time-sensitive information. 

If your agency doesn’t have a critical communications system yet, it’s time to start researching vendors. As you upgrade your system, it’s also important to:

  • Assess your emergency notification capabilities.
  • Review and assess threats.
  • Complete the IPAWS accreditation process.
  • Implement a program encouraging residents to sign up for alerts.
  • Prepare message templates for specific threats.
  • Establish message delivery protocols.
  • Designate “safe” areas and contingency plans.

Look for a critical communications system that enables geo-targeted messaging so you can alert stakeholders in specific areas. Make sure it features two-way messaging as well, so you can account for your own personnel and give residents a way to ask for assistance. An effective critical communications system will allow you to collaborate with first responders and deliver a coordinated response.

2. Emergency Supplies and Services

A key aspect of emergency planning is making sure you have the necessary supplies and support services to keep residents safe and healthy throughout any crisis.

Emergency supplies might range from first aid kits, blankets, personal protective equipment, ventilators, respirators, preserved foods and life vests to generators, prefabricated shelters, and cleanup and rebuilding tools. Support services might include mobile kitchens, IT personnel, portable restrooms, waste management, supplemental healthcare staff and translators.

Emergency management resources like the U.S. General Services Administration help local, state and federal governments acquire emergency supplies, equipment and services. No matter where you source emergency supplies, it’s better to have too much than not enough. As the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated all too clearly, a shortage of personal protective equipment or ventilators can have deadly consequences.

3. Federal Resources

Federal agencies such as FEMA and Homeland Security know a thing or two about emergency management. It’s worth checking out FEMA’s planning guides, community resource toolkits and disaster assistance programs. By comparing your critical event management plans with other agencies’ plans, you can make sure there aren’t any gaps or oversights in your strategy.

The Department of Homeland Security also offers online emergency management resources on everything from civil unrest to cyberattacks. And the Ready Campaign provides tips on disaster preparedness and critical communications. Take advantage of these free resources to stay up-to-date on the latest in critical event management.

4. State and City Resources

In addition to federal agencies, most states and cities provide resources on emergency planning and disaster response. Check state and local government websites for information specific to your area.

Different regions face very different types of emergencies, so emergency management resources will vary. For example, states along the West Coast will have ample resources and information on wildfires and earthquakes, whereas states along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico will likely have an array of hurricane-related resources.

5. Community Organizations

When disaster strikes, a team of local volunteers will be able to respond much more quickly than a federal agency like FEMA. That’s why it’s important to work with community organizations, including local nonprofits, volunteer groups and faith-based initiatives to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

Make sure all relevant stakeholders, including those from low-income communities, are involved in the planning process to ensure no one is left behind during an emergency. Encourage everyone to sign up to receive automatic alerts so they don’t have to search for information when a crisis hits.

Reach All Stakeholders with an Effective Critical Communications System

Critical event management planning is complex, and you can’t afford to cut corners. Take full advantage of the emergency management resources available to you as you dust off your plan. And if your critical communications system needs an upgrade, make that aspect of your planning your first priority. Learn more about how to protect your team and preserve public safety.