Emergency Response Planning (ERP)
Most of North America is at risk of severe weather conditions in some form or another. For example, the recent unprecedented flooding in Yellowstone or the extreme heat warnings given to over a third of the US population. These extreme weather events can cause dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions. According to the US Department of Labor, Preparing before an emergency incident plays a vital role in ensuring that employers and workers have the necessary equipment, know where to go, and know how to keep themselves safe when an emergency occurs. In this blog, we will discuss developing an emergency response plan, how to identify weaknesses, and the importance of controlled testing.
Developing an ERP
The types of extreme weather events may vary from region to region but can generally be planned for using the same approach. Emergency Response Plans (ERP) is a documented scheme of assigned responsibilities, actions and procedures, required in the event of an emergency. It contains a brief, clear and concise description of the overall emergency organization as well as a designation of responsibilities and procedures (including notifications) involved in coping with any or all aspects of a potential credible emergency. Principal Emergency Response and Preparedness Requirements and Guidance.
What's in a written emergency response plan?
- Scope and outline potential emergencies
- Alarms and other methods of initiating a response
- Site-specific response procedures
- Command structure, roles, and responsibilities
- Shutting down of power
- Evacuation and assembly procedures
- Communication systems and protocols
- Emergency contact lists
- Resource lists
A consistent effort must be made to ensure content is up-to-date and accurate. As stated in our previous blog continuous program improvements; as work conditions are ever-evolving so should your ERP. Frequent Inspections should be completed to identify changes to the environment.
Identifying Weaknesses & Controlled Testing
Weaknesses in Emergency Response Plans can be contributed to:
- Insufficient or inaccurate plan information: The lack of an orderly, systematic planning process can lead to gaps in emergency response effectiveness and execution.
- Communication failures or a lack of accountability, including an unclear chain of command and supervision.
- Resource availability and limitations should be included in the plan. Inaccurate or lack of sufficient resources can limit the ability to effectively respond.
- Misplaced focus: Scenario-specific response objectives with properly tested procedures must be cited in the plan to ensure the optimal outcome.
- Unprepared staff - NIMS (USA) or ICS (Canada) training is readily available to workers online.
- Lack of Audit or testing can lead to unreal expectations or unforeseen circumstances affecting the execution of the plan.
When was the last time your ERP was tested?
Organizations can't always avoid disasters, but having a plan helps to minimize the potential damage and get operations back up and running quickly. In addition, an emergency plan promotes a culture of safety awareness and shows the organization's commitment to the safety of its workers.
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“I love it when a plan comes together” A-Team leader Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith