Emergency Preparedness and Response

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DRI International (DRII) has developed an overview of professional practices designed to “assist the entity in the development and implementation of a BCM program.” In addition to being sound resiliency methods, these practices serve as a foundation for various DRII business continuity professional certifications.

With this resource as a guide, we at Send Word Now are briefly examining each professional practice, tying in relevant concepts surrounding emergency communications. Our fifth article in a series highlights DRII’s Professional Practice Five: Emergency Preparedness and Response.

Emergency Preparedness and Response

Our previous four professional practices have focused on broad elements of business continuity management: threat assessments, business impact analyses, business continuity strategies, etc. Professional practice five focuses planning efforts at a lower level, seeking to define procedures for dealing with emergency situations that might impact employee or visitor safety, or endanger physical assets.

Specifically, an emergency response plan “documents how the entity will respond to emergencies in a coordinated, timely and effective manner to address life safety and stabilization of emergency situations until the arrival of trained or external first responders.”

According to DRI International, the professional’s role in this includes:
• Understanding any applicable emergency preparedness and response regulations
• Identifying potential emergency situations and their possible impact
• Identifying the required response capabilities
• Reviewing and assessing current response capabilities (and their potential effectiveness)
• Recommending the development or improvement of emergency procedures
• Recommending the development and implementation of an incident management system command, control and coordination of personnel during an emergency
• Reviewing and coordinating preparedness/response plans with first responders

Emergency Response Plans and Emergency Notification

Obviously, emergency notification technology fits nicely within this practice, as alerting services were designed to rapidly alert and mobilize people in response to a critical event. Among the many factors to consider are:

Predefined notification scenarios should align with potential emergency situations. For each emergency situation, there should be a corresponding notification scenario saved within the service. The scenario(s) should include contact groups, message templates, response questions, preferred communication channels, etc., all nicely packaged together ready to launch at a moment’s notice. And, there should be multiple ways to initiate communication, including internet web browsers, mobile applications, email, and if available, a 24/7, toll-free concierge service like that provided by Send Word Now.

Consider using notification technology to mobilize response teams, in addition to sending broad alerts. This does not mean the notification service should be used to call local law enforcement or the fire department. It should be used to alert and assemble internal response teams (e.g., executive management) in response to situations disrupting operations or affecting employee safety. Consider how the service can call all crisis response team members at once, allowing them to press “1” to enter a predefined conference bridge (no setting up conferencing services or fumbling for PIN codes).

Complex tools may be impractical in a real emergency. Take an incident management solution, for example. There are several highly complex incident management applications available to business continuity managers. While these may benefit some organizations, others may find a simple IMS solution, which is integrated with their emergency notification service, may be more functional in an actual crisis.

Chosen communication methods/modalities should take into account the type of emergency situation. Case in point – severe weather situations may call for alerts being sent to every device, while an active shooter event might only incorporate silent notifications (e.g., desktop alerts) so as not to reveal employee hiding places to the perpetrator.

The Emergency Preparedness and Response phase provides details surrounding response plans to a severe crisis. Once developed, these approaches serve as a roadmap for dealing with critical incidents in their early stages. It’s also the perfect place to deploy emergency notification technologies—tools that can mean the difference between success and failure, maybe even life or death.

If you’re interested in learning more about DRI International’s BCM certifications, you can find additional information here. Watch for future installments in this series.

It should also be noted DRI International is not listing these professional practices in order of importance, and suggests some of these may be undertaken in parallel with one another.

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