It’s practically impossible to consider every type of disaster that could occur or to plot all of the variables. The best you can hope for is to create a plan that takes into account broad strokes for any type of disaster. This foundation allows you to build smaller scenarios for specific events, utilizing them as needed to create an ad hoc preparedness plan that is both expansive and flexible at the same time. There are some key considerations that you’ll need in this adaptable foundation, including emergency communication strategies, training development and drills, plan adaptations for different scenarios and continuous evaluation and review processes.
Maintaining a clear line of communication is critical throughout any emergency, allowing you to stay in touch with both internal and external stakeholders and provide necessary information to your audience. When there are only moments to make a decision that could mean life or death, you want to be sure that you have everything in place before you need it. Having a sophisticated push notification option at your fingertips provides you with the ability to send different messages to various audience segments, ensuring that everyone receives the right message for their needs at a particular time. Creating the messages that you want to send before you need them is only the first step. You also have to assure that everyone on your emergency management team fully understands your platform and is able to use it seamlessly when they need to.
There will always be a tension between flexibility and detail, and riding that fine line by introducing adaptive elements is the clearest path to success in the event of an emergency. If you have a key strategy for an active shooter situation, is there a part of that process that could be incorporated into a plan for other violent incidents? It’s likely that explosions or other domestic terror attacks would require a similar response to an active shooter, just as there are elements of a flood or fire warning that are likely similar. Having a few highly flexible scenarios allows you to quickly decide how to move forward in the event of an emergency.
Collaboration with others is an essential facet of your strategy, especially as you see the scale of an event expand beyond the realms of your control. This could mean bringing in community leaders, the surrounding agencies or working with other organizations. Create a logical, repeatable and versatile process that includes courses of action based on a checklist of considerations. Taking these steps allows you to approach each situation strategically in a way that prevents further damage to property and disruption to the lives of your community members.
There are always people who tend to step up in the event of an emergency, and others who are incredibly helpful as long as someone tells them exactly what to do. Understand the difference between the two personality types and ensure that you have people placed appropriately. You want your leader to be able to take action even if the event is not exactly mapped out in your emergency planning documentation. Instead, you need an overall leader who provides clear guidance and specific instruction to others in order to execute effectively and keep people out of harm’s way. Establish a clear chain of command before the emergency, so there are no questions in the heat of the moment.
You don’t want to discover that there are missing elements in your emergency preparedness strategy when disaster hits. Instead, it’s important to continually review your processes to ensure that you’ve effectively removed any weak links. You may wish to use tabletop exercises as part of your evaluation strategy, as they allow you to step through more complex scenarios and look for gaps or deficiencies in your various scenarios.
The most important aspect of creating a flexible and adaptable emergency preparedness plan is to stick to the basics. Your team will be able to build on this solid foundation by practicing and becoming highly comfortable with core elements. Provide checklists and quick access documentation for your team to fall back on in the event of an emergency.
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Every organization, whether it is in the public or private sector, needs to evaluate the risks that threaten the lives and property of stakeholders. Communication is a key element of any crisis response plan before, during and after an event occurs.Download The White Paper