Plan, Prepare, Provide: Emergency Operations During a Crisis
About 10 years ago, we published an article on weathering the worst during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Today, the same content is as applicable as ever. Any number of crises can strike without warning and make doing “business as usual” nearly impossible. Flu pandemics, devastating weather events, earthquakes, infrastructure breakdowns. This article explains what’s needed in an emergency operations plan, including providing emergency resources and accountability for employees during a crisis.
Plan for a rapid recoveryThe first place to start is to establish a cross-functional team and imagine all the possible worst-case scenarios for your company. Examining what might happen during an emergency allows you to best plan for how to respond and recover from it. When scenario-planning, consider your key personnel, equipment, and information. Ask questions, including:
- Who is critical to getting your business going again?
- What is the succession plan if these leaders are unavailable?
- What types of equipment will be needed to move forward?
- Where will key information be stored and how can it be accessed?
- Who are trusted vendors, outsource partners, and service providers who may be able to pitch in and help in a disaster?
Develop a state of readinessThe necessary personnel, materials, and environments may vary for different scenarios. Take inventory of what is already available at the organization, then acquire what else is needed. While each scenario may be unique, the contingency plan can be prepared for similar responses including
- Identify individuals with specific knowledge, talents, or skills, such as employees with emergency medical technician, CPR, first-aid or firefighting training, or hold a ham operator’s license.
- Ask those with organizational skills and ability to focus during chaos, to be part of an emergency first responder team.
- Integrate training for managers in areas of empathy, stress management, and dealing with anxiety in the workplace. Encourage them to share this with their teams.
- Develop a buddy system, or means of accountability, to help employees check in and stay connected to one another.
- Include alternative work arrangements in the contingency plan, such as working from home, staggering shifts, job sharing, cross-training, and returning to work at partial capacity.
- Buy and store emergency supplies in a central location and plan an escape route.
- Post signs and conduct drills to ensure your staff knows where the supplies are and how to safely leave the workplace.