Emergency planning is an important part of any organization’s risk management efforts. By preparing for emergencies, an organization can reduce the impact of unexpected events and help to ensure less interruption to their services. Plans should be site specific, communicated to staff and volunteers, rehearsed through regular drills and evaluated/updated as needed. As you develop your plan it is important to consider the different types of emergencies that may affect your organization. Some emergencies are geographically specific such as flooding, hurricanes and earthquakes. Others might be more specific to programs or services, such as kidnapping for child care centers or vehicular accidents when transportation is provided. All organizations should plan for the risk of some emergency, crisis management, and business continuity planning.
Core Program Elements
A written plan should be prepared and distributed to all staff of the organization. The plan should be adapted to off-site locations and available to that staff.
Chain of Command
The first step in emergency planning is to identify who is responsible for the emergency planning and response. Organizations should review their chain-of-command and ensure that a single individual is assigned to be the Emergency Coordinator (EC). Some organizations may also choose to hire a third-party to coordinate emergency services and/or security.
Organizations must determine, as part of the planning, what methods will be available to communicate during various emergencies. These may include alarms, PA systems, phones, cell phones, text alerts, radios, social media and the internet. Communication methods should be checked on a regular basis and offer back-up options when conditions require. A separate Crisis Communication Plan should be developed that is consistent with the written Emergency Plan.
Conducting emergency drills are an effective technique for preparing emergencies. Drills can help staff feel more comfortable with the stress of emergency situations and ensure that emergency and crisis situations are handled effectively. Situational emergency drills should be conducted at least every quarter, including a full evacuation drill semi-annually. These emergency response personnel should be asked to review the organization’s written emergency procedures.
Accommodating & Adapting for People with Disabilities
Organizations should involve people with disabilities in identifying needs and evaluating effective emergency management plans. Issues that have the greatest impact on people with disabilities include; notification, evacuation, areas of refuge, access to their mobility devices or service animals, and access to information.
Emergency response will be based on the situation but often will follow one of the two following reactions: evacuation or lockdown. Supportive information such as exit plans, maps, contact lists, informational equipment or chemical sheets can be attached as addendums to the written emergency plan.
Sample Situational Responses
Acts of Nature; e.g. Earthquake, Flooding, Wildfire
Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure
Bomb Threats / Phone Threat
Building and Site Evacuation
Fire Alarm / Emergency
Intruders / Burglary
Kidnapping, Missing or Fleeing Child
Medical Emergency; CPR / AED / Oxygen & First Aid
Lockdown / Shelter in Place
Suspicious Mail or Package
Weather Emergency: e.g. Hurricane, Tornado, Electrical Storm
Workplace Violence: Active Shooter Planning / Assault / Violent Intruder