Emergency Response Planning
Creating an emergency response plan is a challenge, no matter what kind of organization you are a part of. Too often, organizations only address the most apparent issues, which can leave them dealing with unforeseen problems when they need to put that plan into action. With so many different aspects to consider, it’s not surprising that certain items get missed, but the more comprehensive plan you create, the more likely it is that you will have a successful outcome when putting your plan into action.
A mass notification system can help, but even organizations that implement these tools can run into problems during an emergency if they have not taken the time to create an all-inclusive plan. This can lead to people missing messages, having tools that not everyone can easily use, and overcomplicated solutions that take too long to activate, impacting their effectiveness. To help mitigate these potential setbacks, we’ve outlined seven overlooked aspects of emergency response planning.
1. Reaching Everyone
Many organizations think they have this item covered by using mass SMS text messaging or email solutions. It’s only after an incident occurs, that they realize people didn’t see these messages quick enough or maybe did not even notice they were sent at all. That’s because using a single method of communication during an emergency is rarely sufficient when trying to inform people about a crisis. Where a person is when the message goes out, noise, activities, and other distractions can all make it difficult to receive the information you are trying to communicate. The best way to overcome this issue is by leveraging a notification system that can utilize multiple communication methods at the same time. Being able to send text and audio to on-premises and mobile devices makes it much more likely everyone receives a message quickly no matter where they are or what they are doing.
2. Preparing for Every Scenario
Organizations often rely on their safety teams to let them know what kind of situations they need to prepare for, like active shooters, lockdowns, and evacuations. However, if organizations encounter a scenario that they have not planned for, time can be wasted putting together messaging to alert everyone. The more time it takes, the more danger there is for people that are unaware and in a rush to get messages out, critical steps may be missed.
By bringing in other departments to discuss emergency response planning, your organization can create a more comprehensive strategy. Human resources, IT teams, and facility crews may all have valuable input on the types of emergencies that may disrupt operations and put people at risk. The more preparation your organization can do ahead of time, the more likely it is for you to have a successful emergency response.
3. Finding Value for Everyone
When safety teams bring in other departments to help identify potential scenarios, they are also bringing in more people who have a vested interest in seeing a successful execution of your emergency response plan. This also helps familiarize more people with the tool you’ll be using when your plan goes into action and presents opportunities to find additional value for those tools beyond safety use cases. For example, HR may be able to send out notifications about company meetings, and IT teams can use mass notifications to inform people about outages or cyberattacks. Facility managers can even integrate IoT devices to set off alerts when there is water damage in sensitive areas. This helps ensure your organization is getting the most out of its investment.
4. Using What You Have
Emergency response plans can be hindered by the need to invest in new equipment, but organizations can circumvent this by using devices they already have in place. With a mass notification system as the central pillar of enacting an emergency response plan, organizations can add value to existing technology investments. Phone systems, IP speakers, digital signage, desktop computers, mobile phones, overhead paging, and IoT devices can all be connected to trigger and broadcast messages. This helps create a more connected ecosystem that more effectively delivers critical information.
5. Understanding Triggers
The effectiveness of an emergency response plan can be determined by how quickly it can be put into action when a crisis occurs. This relies on having easy-to-activate triggers readily accessible for people to get the word out to those who need to be informed. Forcing people to be in front of a computer does not offer an immediate method for activating your plan. A mass notification system can greatly expand the number of available, automated triggers, helping messages get out faster and reducing the workload for people in charge of your response plan. Virtual and physical panic buttons, speed dials, mobile apps, keyboard shortcuts, and IoT devices can all be used to set emergency plans into motion by broadcasting messages about an event as quickly as possible.
6. Anticipating Growth
Organizations often implement tools and plans that address a pressing problem, which means they sometimes are restricted when they need to amend plans in the future. Whether your organization grows, threats evolve, or new requirements emerge, without the right solution, updating response plans can be costly. Future-proof solutions can be hard to come by, but mass notifications systems offer unique benefits by integrating with legacy technology already in place in many organizations. Mass notifications systems are also scalable so regardless of the number of people or sites an organization adds, everyone can still be reached with emergency messages.
This last aspect is often the most overlooked, but it’s also the most critical. Testing the tools you leverage for your emergency response plan is vital when looking to build confidence that the solution works as intended. Testing can verify that messages are sent to the right areas of your building and the right groups of people. It can also identify potential issues that need to be addressed, like certain speakers not activating, or messages being sent out with incorrect content. Establishing regular testing validates every component works as it is intended and keeps people familiar with how the response procedures and tools work so they don’t waste time trying to find the right step or log in when an actual emergency strikes.
By addressing these steps as part of your emergency response planning you can create a more comprehensive and effective strategy for keeping everyone safe.