Identify Emergency Response Objectives

You’ve identified what emergencies threaten your business and the potential impact of those threats. Now you can put it all together to create an emergency action plan. There will be critical moments after a disaster occurs. Your priority should always be the protection of human life and then the preservation of your business. After that, you will need to focus on business continuity. Here are some basic steps to create an emergency action plan. Keep in mind yours may be more or less intricate depending on your business needs.

Identify Emergency Response Objectives

The needs of your action plan will vary based on your industry, size, location and the highest priority risks to the company. Here you can explore what main objectives need to be completed and in what order.

As stated earlier, making sure employees are safe should be the first objective. Next, you will need to determine in what order the following objectives should take place.

Legal requirements or interaction with law enforcement may be necessary. It can be helpful to communicate with the appropriate teams to ensure your disaster preparedness plan for business is ready to go.

Assemble a Written Disaster Preparedness Handbook

Since disasters are unpredictable, it’s very important to make sure the plan does not hinge on one person or department. You never know who will be available to communicate plans when disaster strikes.

Discuss Your Emergency Response Plan With Your Team

Having the plan written down is a great starting point. But for it to be truly effective, your plan needs to be understood by all employees involved.

Make sure you discuss the plan with the entire department. Those on the ground floor are best equipped to understand how a response plan will play out in actuality. They should also be able to spot holes in the plan and give input on a micro level.

Your team should convene regularly to determine how the group will function in a crisis. Decide what methods of communication you all will use and alternatives to those methods.

You should decide what constitutes a crisis and what will prompt your plan to take action. Each person should have a backup or alternate capable of representing their area.

Ensure the company, as a whole, develops and trains a Crisis Management Team (CMT) that each have primary responsibilities. Core members should be people familiar with technology, facilities, safety, HR, legal and compliance, sales, marketing, business operations and customer service.

Run Response Simulations

Once you’ve refined your plan and identified your team, it’s time to practice. This hands-on approach will allow you to test the plan and change anything that if inefficient or ineffective.

It’s best to conduct these kinds of live-action drills annually for each of the highest risk emergency situations in your handbook. After each drill, meet with those involved to discuss challenges. Discuss any miscommunications or any potential changes to the plan.

Create a Plan to Get Back on Track

Once you’ve created an emergency action plan, think about what your company will need to do to get things back up and running.

Consider what systems will need to be put in place to continue operations. Perhaps employees can work remotely from data you have saved to the cloud. Maybe you will need to buy or lease new equipment and facilities.

You may need to alert the public. This Emergency Preparedness Social Media Toolkit from Ready.gov has some great templates, graphics and outreach materials you can use as a guide. If you have an airtight plan in place, your IT department can be back up and running as soon as possible.

Remember — disaster response is only as strong as its communications system. Business priorities in a disaster are always going to include communicating with customers, communicating to the market and communicating with each other.

It’s important that the communications system functions in a disaster more or less how it would under normal circumstances. Those displaced by the event should be able to use communications from their home or temporary locations as if they were sitting in a desk or office.

A CIO should be vigilant about disaster preparedness. Any event or disturbance that can impact the productivity of the enterprise should be considered and planned for.

The process of analyzing possible threats and preparing for them can be daunting. But having a plan in place can ensure your business experiences minimal losses should a disaster occur. You can never be too ready for an emergency!

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