Magazine article Risk Management

Creating an Emergency Response Plan

Magazine article Risk Management

Creating an Emergency Response Plan

Article excerpt

Floods, fires, hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, hazardous chemical spills and power outages--these are some of the disasters that pose a threat to businesses. However, since there is no way to know for certain when these calamities will strike, companies must have an emergency response plan to protect themselves from these devastating events, declared Kathleen Henning, program coordinator for the Department of Fire & Rescue Services for Montgomery County in Rockville, Maryland. "Having an emergency response plan helps an organization deal with any disaster that comes its way," she said.

Creating an emergency response plan requires advance planning, said Ms. Henning. The first step in this process is to conduct a hazard analysis. "This involves deciding which hazards pose the most risk to the organization and then putting them in order of priority," she said. After these hazards have been delineated and prioritized, the next step is to create the plan itself. "For the plan to be successful, it has to be adaptable to any kind of incident."

When creating the plan, the company should obtain input from the groups that will be affected by it, said Ms. Henning. "The most successful emergency response plans involve input from the people who will have to carry the plan out, as well as customers, the public and any outside agencies the organization must deal with during a crisis."

The core of the plan is the emergency management group, which is a multi-agency coordinating group that handles the management, operations, logistics, administrative, and financial issues that arise in the course of the disaster, said Ms. Henning. To illustrate how these groups work, she described the emergency management group at Montgomery County, which consists of representatives from public agencies such as the police, fire, transportation and health departments, environmental organizations and the county attorney.

The group meets regularly to talk about planning and discuss how it will respond to a major incident. "The things we look at are how to bring together the specialized resources that are needed, as well as dealing with the county's primary responsibilities in the event of a disaster, which include notifying the public about the event, sheltering and evacuations for hazardous situations, coping with mass casualty incidents, and managing the resources needed for recovery."

The emergency management group consists of four primary teams --operations, logistics, legal/finance and planning--each of which has unique responsibilities, said Ms. …

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